Middle School: Why Success In Middle School Matters

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues: This spring and summer, we've shared with you research on the challenges of academic learning loss and COVID slide; the additional time out of school this spring and inconsistent engagement by students will likely lead to students that are significantly behind in the fall, especially in math and likely demonstrated on college entrance exams as well. Why is this year critical for 7th and 8th graders? One critical turning point for students is the jump from middle to high school. Extensive research from the University of Chicago Consortium for School Research has highlighted the importance of performance in the freshman year of high school to long-term outcomes, including college persistence. Students are considered on-track if, at the end of their freshman year of high school, they have: accumulated five full course credits no more than one failing grade in a core subject (English, math, science, or social studies) Students that are "on-track" at the end of ninth grade are nearly three times more likely to graduate from high school. It's urgent that we prepare our students to be successful in high school through a rigorous middle school academic experience. How is Academic Approach working with students? We know how essential academic skills are for students returning to school this fall. In addition, we've done extensive analysis on the skills relevant to success in high school performance and how they relate to college readiness. We're preparing our middle school (and soon-to-be-high-school!) students with our new, robust middle school curriculum. We've carefully designed this curriculum not only to prepare students for high school entrance exams like the ISEE, SSAT, HSPT, NWEA-MAP, and Chicago and New York Selective Enrollment Exams, but also to help them bridge between high school and college readiness. We've identified and scaffolded key skills that students will need throughout high school to prepare for college success, and we're providing them with the building blocks they need in middle school to get there. Be well, Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2020-09-10T18:00:00+00:00September 10, 2020|Letter|Comments Off on Middle School: Why Success In Middle School Matters

Middle School: Rigorous Design, Long-Term Success

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:Yesterday, I shared some key features of our new curriculum designed specifically for middle schoolers. Today, I wanted to share with you more about the academic design of our curriculum as well as some proof points around how our students fare on high school entrance exams and applications.Our middle school curriculum is designed with long-term success in mind. We carefully designed each lesson to support students as they grow towards higher-level rigor and skills. We also considered the challenges of the Common Core State Standards as well as typical middle school courses (both strengths and gaps) when considering what content to include. As a result, our middle school curriculum is well aligned with the academic supports students especially need now, as their typical classroom learning is disrupted this fall.We are confident the academic and critical thinking skills our students are learning will lead them to success in middle school, high school, and college. We’ve also seen our work with students lead to great outcomes on high school entrance exams.In the last two years, 86% of our students that shared outcomes with us got into a top-choice school or program. Forty-five percent of our students reporting selective enrollment scores earned a perfect score.You can see more on our middle school curriculum here.Be well,Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2020-09-09T17:58:23+00:00September 9, 2020|Letter|Comments Off on Middle School: Rigorous Design, Long-Term Success

Middle School: Academically Enriching Curriculum

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues: Since 2001, we’ve worked extensively with high school students preparing for college entrance exams and success on and beyond those tests. We’ve also worked with many middle and elementary school students and teachers preparing for high school entrance exams (independent, parochial, boarding, and selective public schools) as well as students needing academic support in the lower grades. Through that work, we’ve learned one clear thing from our students: the jump from middle to high school can be steep, and students can feel unprepared for the rigors they encounter. To help, we’ve developed and released our new middle school curriculum. This robust set of texts is designed to support students in not only preparing for high school entrance exams but also (true to our roots) preparing for success beyond the test—in high school, college, and beyond. These texts encompass a wide breadth of content and leverage our expertise in college readiness to ensure students are receiving rigorous instruction. Many students applying for high school face a unique challenge—they’ll take multiple tests for different types of schools, and they’ll prepare for all these tests simultaneously. Our curriculum is designed to support such a path. We have developed diagnostics to assess a student’s strengths and gaps across all high school entrance exams, and a curriculum to support high-impact instruction across these exams. You can see more on our middle school curriculum here. Tomorrow, we’ll share more about how our rigorous instruction not only prepares students for a wide variety of assessments but also prepares them for academic success.  Be well, Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2020-09-08T17:00:00+00:00September 8, 2020|Letter|Comments Off on Middle School: Academically Enriching Curriculum

SAT – A Note Of Appreciation & PSAT Update

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:SAT: A Note of AppreciationStandardized testing most certainly makes the top 100 list of divisive issues these days, so it is indeed a challenge to take a perspective that appropriately includes and validates our audience’s range of opinions and experiences. Just look at College Board’s twitter page, namely, the comments below their celebratory tweet, and you will see what I mean.All that said, we focus today on celebrating the success of our school partners, who worked hard to create safe, testing opportunities for students this past weekend for SAT test-takers. While College Board has not yet released stats on the SAT administered last weekend, many of our school partners successfully administered the SAT. The late registration deadline for the September SAT is coming up on 9/15. We messaged before the operational burden that administering a standardized test places on school administration. With current safety protocols, that burden is far greater.We are grateful to these schools and their staff for their commitment to offering access and opportunity for students. We are also appreciative of our students’ and families’ patience, persistence, and resilience. We hope that the key learnings you generated help others find practical solutions for what—invariably—will be a school year in which we all will need to find many practical solutions to a number of challenges.PSAT UpdateDue to the challenges of accessing testing, the National Merit Scholarship Foundation has followed the lead of most colleges and universities and is not requiring a confirming ACT or SAT score for current seniors hoping to become finalists. Students can learn more about the requirements here. In addition, the cutoff scores have appeared online for semifinalist status. In all 50 states, the cutoff was lower this year than last (unsurprising, since the cutoff for commended status dropped from 212 to 209). Illinois’ cutoff dropped from 221 to 219; New York’s from 221 to 220.Students who qualified for semifinalist status may not hear about their status until mid-September.Be well,Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2020-09-03T17:57:33+00:00September 3, 2020|Letter|Comments Off on SAT – A Note Of Appreciation & PSAT Update

Will ACT Plan To Provide At-Home, Online Testing?

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues: We’re spending this week offering updates on ACT & SAT, some of which are relevant to our Class of 2021 and some to the Classes of 2022 and beyond. On August 26, 2020 in a Facebook Live session with Grown & Flown, ACT’s CEO Janet Godwin explained the following regarding its goal of administering at-home, online testing. When will ACT provide at-home, online testing? ACT… plans to provide at-home, online testing in December. There are pilots taking place now. Last weekend they kicked off an initial pilot to test the technology for 50 students (whose scores will not be college reportable) and are planning additional beta tests in October and December. tabled the work on online testing at test sites until at least 2021, given the demand for "basic" testing this fall. We’ll continue to share information as we acquire it. We’ll keep you updated about the development of an at-home, online testing solution. Be well, Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2020-09-01T18:00:00+00:00September 1, 2020|Letter|Comments Off on Will ACT Plan To Provide At-Home, Online Testing?
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