3 Steps to Improvement For those students who took the ACT in April 2021, we’ve outlined three key steps to create a path for your students academic improvement: 1. RETRIEVE YOUR SCORES Scores from the April 17th ACT became available yesterday, April 27th. Try to retrieve your scores here as soon as today. 2. ANALYZE YOUR SCORES Your score report provides some key information that can drive targeted instructional planning. You’ll notice percentage accuracy details under key curriculum categories such as Conventions of Standard English, Geometry, Functions, Statistics, Key Ideas & Details, and Interpretation of Data. This detailed analysis can help drive targeted instructional plans to spot treat efficiently high-impact, low accuracy areas of skills in order to drive further score growth. What’s more, for the December, April, and June national ACT test dates, ACT offers the Test Information Release service. Students can purchase a copy of the actual test questions and a report of the items they missed. The TIR is tremendously helpful in offering detailed insight into the specific question types that challenged students, providing an opportunity for reflection, detailed analysis, and learning. It’s that specific analysis that leads to the greatest growth. 3. MAKE A PLAN Once you analyze results and make a focused, personalized instructional plan, there are plenty of dates ahead for retesting. June, July, September, and October all present opportunities for retesting prior to early admissions deadlines. With ACT superscoring now available this can only be a benefit. Please let us know if we can help you analyze your student’s score report, identify key error patterns in your student’s TIR (Test Information Release), and develop a targeted plan for optimizing your student’s potential for further learning and growth. Feel free to give us a call at 773-348-8914 or get in touch by filling out our contact form. Be well, Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO
Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues: At Academic Approach, we are committed to serving as a reliable resource for parents in our community, especially as they navigate an often-changing landscape of assessment, curriculum, and instruction. One of the more complicated landscapes to navigate is high school admissions in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Two weeks ago, we summarized for you the critical guidelines in planning and preparing seventh graders for the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Selective Enrollment Exam and noted the importance of the NWEA MAP scores, which comprised one-third of a student’s point total in the scoring system. Today, we’re sending this important update to the CPS high school admissions process, announced this week. Here are the key points of reference: Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will not administer the NWEA MAP this spring to be used in the 2022-2023 selection process The 900-point scale moves to an equal weight (450 points each) of seventh grade grades and the CPS High School Admissions Test, dropping the NWEA MAP portion entirely The Selective Enrollment Exam (also known as the High School Admissions Test) will be administered to ALL Chicago Public Schools 8th grade students during the school day this fall. A qualifying NWEA MAP score is no longer required. Non-CPS students will sign up to take the test on a weekend. CPS notes that the universal administration of the admissions test during the school day fosters equity of access, among other key logistical practicalities. It’s important to note that the elimination of the NWEA MAP testing will not impact the selection process for current 8th graders in the 2021-2022 school year. Admission results are still expected on April 30th. We will continue to highlight the impact of this announcement to students and their preparation programs in the coming weeks. Academic Approach improves your students’ standardized testing by tailoring our research-based, expert instruction and curriculum to your needs, and we can design a solution for you right away. Feel free to give us a call at 773-348-8914 or get in touch by filling out our contact form. Be well, Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO
Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues: Gaining admission to a Selective Enrollment High School is very competitive, and test scores are a significant factor in determining acceptance into the top schools, with 7th grade MAP scores comprising a third of a student’s point total and the 8th grade Selective Enrollment Exam accounting for an additional third. At Academic Approach, we encourage parents and students to begin instruction the summer before 7th grade. We’ve summarized three important guidelines to consider as you prepare: 1. Timing is critical While the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Selective Enrollment Exam is scheduled for dates across fall and winter of 8th grade, it’s key for students to prepare for the exam with strong academic skill-building throughout 7th grade, including preparation for the MAP test in the spring of 7th grade while earning strong grades.* Note: One-third of students’ admission eligibility is determined by their 7th-grade letter grades in Reading, Math, Social Studies, and Science, and an additional third is determined by their 7th-grade qualifying test scores on the MAP exam. 2. Develop academic excellence Improving 7th grade academic performance will prepare students for the 8th grade Selective Enrollment Exam. This exam incorporates key math, reading, grammar, and vocabulary learned throughout elementary and middle school, and students will need time to learn all these skills. 3. Strategic practice makes perfect Some specific features of the 8th grade Selective Enrollment Exam can make it especially challenging for students and require additional preparation. No calculators allowed: Mental math is critical to success! Teach students to solve without the calculator as a tool. While they can use a calculator on the MAP test, they’ll have to rely on mental math and calculation skills on the 8th grade test. Vocabulary is explicitly tested: Motivate students to read complex texts and incorporate vocabulary in their speaking and writing to build high-level vocabulary skills through authentic practice. For more information on the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Selective Enrollment Exam, visit our information page here. We’re happy to share other key insights and resources to drive your student’s success. Feel free to give us a call at 773-348-8914 or get in touch by filling out our contact form. Be well, Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO *Timing may be subject to change due to Coronavirus limitations on in-person events.
Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues: Academic growth is scaffolded: mastery of prior skills is necessary to succeed in more advanced skills. This becomes especially clear when teaching math to high school students. We show our students how the Pythagorean Theorem (content they likely first encountered in middle school) is related to more advanced math content they’ll encounter throughout high school: the distance formula, the equation for the circle, the Pythagorean Identity in Trigonometry, the modulus in the imaginary plane, etc. Basic skills build up to advanced skills, and they are all related, and a deep, conceptual understanding of early skills is essential for success on later ones. When those relationships are not made clear—or understanding is lacking at any level—the concepts remain disconnected, and mastery of the more advanced skills becomes limited. The Importance of Rigor Research shows that one of the most important factors in driving academic mastery is the expectations provided by teachers—and the quality of instruction that results from those expectations. Teachers who agree that their students can meet the bar set by grade-level standards tended to offer stronger assignments and instruction, while teachers who hold the lowest expectations tended to offer lower-quality assignments in their classrooms. Those choices have consequences: in classrooms in the top quartile for teacher expectations, students achieved five more months of growth than students in classrooms in the bottom quartile for teacher expectations. As a result, then, it’s not surprising that grades aren’t always a very good indicator of whether students have actually mastered grade-level academic skills. While higher grades do correspond to a greater chance that students can do grade-level work, that chance is not especially great, even for students who bring home As and Bs. On the whole, students who earn Bs on their math and ELA coursework have a less than 35 percent chance of having met their state assessment’s grade-level bar. Even an A is far from a guarantee: 29 percent of A students do not meet their state assessment’s grade-level bar. In a system where many students pass from year to year underprepared for what comes next, teachers often find themselves teaching students who truly aren’t yet working at grade level. They feel forced to choose between assigning grade-level work that’s beyond their students’ current skill set or assigning work that matches those skills—but is below grade level. By providing low-level work, they are then reinforcing the cycle, and students continue to move forward unprepared for higher-level academic rigor. Why Does This Matter Now? As we emerge from a year of hybrid and remote learning, we remain focused on ensuring that students maintain academic progress. It’s important to ensure that the work students are engaged in is rigorous enough, that As and Bs earned are truly reflective of essential, grade-level skill mastery, and that we show students that we maintain the highest expectations for their academic success. We’re happy to share other key tips and resources. Feel free to give us a call at 773-348-8914 or [...]