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Always A Lesson: Matthew Pietrafetta, Founder of Academic Approach, joins host Gretchen Schultek to discuss the benefits of aligning high-impact test preparation with curriculum and instruction.

Matthew is the founder of Academic Approach, an organization that helps schools in underserved communities prepare students for the SAT and ACT, the tests they need to succeed on to gain admission to college. He’s also a former New York City teacher. He says “aligning high-impact test preparation with curriculum and instruction is not easy work, but it’s valuable and necessary. Often this work is approached as an “either-or:” either I focus on test prep or I focus on my curriculum.  If you can approach the challenge as a “both-and” instead, you can find some efficient, creative solutions: I can both teach my curriculum and integrate in skills-based test preparation that teaches my students the high-impact skills they need for success both in my class and on the test.  With the right assessment, reporting, and professional development system in place, we can achieve that all-important “both-and” in teaching and learning.”


  • “Teach beyond the test”
  • “With the proper mentorship, students can fail forward… a lesson in resilience”
  • “The way experience failure can be positive and productive or paralyzing”
  • “If you do take a student centered view of teaching, you never are done because there’s always a new student and each student is different”

Buzz Words

  • Locus of control
  • Growth mindset
  • Grit
  • Rigorous academic approach
  • Self Conception

Matthew’s Stamp of Approval


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