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SAT vs. ACT: Standardized Test Expert Weighs In – Patch.com (Winnetka)

WINNETKA, IL — The SAT has replaced the ACT as the state accountability exam in Illinois, and April 5 marks the first time all students in public high schools will take the state-mandated exam. For many students, the publicly subsidized test will be their only opportunity at a college entrance exam. However, some students will have to decide which is better for them and their own needs: the SAT or ACT. To help families sort through the choices, Patch spoke with Matthew Pietrafetta, founder and CEO of Academic Approach, a company that works with students and schools to improve skills and test scores. "It's a big shock to the system because Illinois has been aligned with the ACT since 2001," he said. "That's a big deal to shift that." Pietrafetta's company was involved in Michigan's recent transition to SAT testing and has a contract with Chicago Public Schools to help prepare students and teachers for the new assessment.Subscribe Even though all students will be sitting for the April 5 SAT exam, its result does not necessarily have to be submitted to admissions departments, he said. "When you're applying to college, you can just really focus in your application on highlighting the score that features you better," Pietrafetta said. But how do you do that? Ideally, through sample tests that let you figure out which test you score better and on which you feel more comfortable.  Students and families asking about the tests differences can contrast the two using the following table: Table showing differences between SAT and ACT (Courtesy Academic Approach)  "Students are not all the same, there is no average, so you could go to the same school and be getting the same GPA as the student sitting next to you, but that student may perform way better on one test or the other from you," Pietrafetta said. "It doesn't mean you're the same, because it's such a summative test. There's so much curriculum, grammar, reading, math, science, so it could really impact you differently. You could have different strengths and different areas of opportunity." Those students especially skilled at taking standardized tests may benefit from taking the ACT, SAT and PSAT.  But Pietrafetta has a warning for students who feel they can neglect the April 5 exam because they've already got the score they want: The scores from the state-mandated SAT will still be attached to students' final high school transcripts, even if some superintendents have elected not to attach them to transcripts until the spring of senior year after most college-bound students have already been admitted. So, April 5 SAT scores will be part of the permanent academic records of all Illinois public high school juniors. Read original article: https://patch.com/illinois/winnetka/sat-act-tips-offered-ahead-first-mandatory-state-exam

By |2017-03-01T15:36:58+00:00March 1, 2017|News, Press|Comments Off on SAT vs. ACT: Standardized Test Expert Weighs In – Patch.com (Winnetka)

In Times of Change, Here’s How Education Entrepreneurs Can Build Organizations That Last – Triple Pundit

Though education entrepreneurs may differ in their opinions of President Donald Trump and the new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, they can agree on one thing: This new administration will mean a significant shift in American education policy. Because federal education policy impacts school budgets, standards, curriculum and evaluation metrics, a new public policy direction can have a major impact on education organizations and entrepreneurs. This impact is especially pertinent for those who define their business model narrowly on one set of policies which, if repealed or modified, can force education organizations to completely redefine themselves. The rise and fall of Common Core? While the election of President Trump means a potentially favorable rollback of regulations for businesses in other industries, the rollback in education standards may not be so favorable for organizations invested in education. Consider Common Core standards, which President Trump has pledged to eliminate, and DeVos also claimed she does not support. With $200 million in start-up money from the Gates Foundation and $4.35 billion in Race to the Top federal grants to support its implementation and adoption, the Common Core aspired to serve as a universal framework for standards-based education. While controversial and often misunderstood from the start, Common Core garnered both conservative and liberal support for a more rigorous set of national college and career readiness standards that would lift public education in America. Swept up in this tremendous gravitational pull of education reform and private and federal funding, many education companies rushed to align to Common Core in their curriculum, assessments, and professional development services to help teachers and school leaders adapt to the new standards. An explosion of entrepreneurship followed as education companies large and small retooled entire curricula and technologies to serve as vendors to states and districts making the Common Core transition. As support of Common Core declines, not only are these companies at risk of failing, but the students, teachers and school leaders using their products could also lose valuable time and resources. The dilemma highlights two inherent problems in education reform: The deep-seated frustration of educators who strive to build sustainable growth in their schools but are repeatedly undermined by changes outside of their controlThe risk that education entrepreneurs take on in building educational services that are too narrowly tied to policies in flux In the end, then, no matter the party in power, education entrepreneurs should strive to build businesses that can withstand policy change. Preparing for change So how can education entrepreneurs weather upcoming policy changes and provide services and resources to help schools do the same? Education entrepreneurs should spend the time to gain a thorough understanding of existing policy and potential policy changes and avoid building their offerings to serve one given policy exclusively. Entrepreneurs should develop products or services of lasting value that can persist even in light of likely policy change and stand the test of time. Ultimately, the most important thing for any education organization to do is to hone in on [...]

By |2017-02-28T15:38:49+00:00February 28, 2017|News, Press|Comments Off on In Times of Change, Here’s How Education Entrepreneurs Can Build Organizations That Last – Triple Pundit

The Principal Center Radio: Matthew Pietrafetta, Founder of Academic Approach, joins host Justin Baeder to discuss college entrance exam prep for underserved communities.

Matthew Pietrafetta joins Justin Baeder to discuss college entrance exam prep for underserved communities. https://www.principalcenter.com/matthew-pietrafetta-college-entrance-exam-prep-for-underserved-communities/

By |2017-02-13T15:59:05+00:00February 13, 2017|News, Press|Comments Off on The Principal Center Radio: Matthew Pietrafetta, Founder of Academic Approach, joins host Justin Baeder to discuss college entrance exam prep for underserved communities.

Grit in the Classroom – EdNews Daily

rit has been celebrated and critiqued by many in academic circles and the academic press, but the conversation has remained largely focused on the work and opinions of researchers. Less attention has been given to the day-to-day experiences of educators who are working to strengthen students’ grit and incorporate grit into classroom curricula. Many students, particularly those from some of the most challenging circumstances, already possess grit. What they overcome everyday is a matter of great resilience. The key is to help students connect that and other forms of grit to meaningful academic work and develop that grit further within an academic and college readiness context. Grit Defined Angela Duckworth, a professor of psychology at University of Pennsylvania, developed the concept of grit through research on the skills that help students succeed. In her TED Talk on the subject, she defined grit as “passion and perseverance for very long-term goals” and said, “Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Paul Tough, the author of “How Children Succeed” and “Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why,” has also developed and popularized the concept.   Some have questioned the validity of the idea of grit. Many have claimed the research is impossible to replicate and that grit can never be measured. Regardless of personal opinion, the implications these opinions have on the classroom, as well as standardized testing, should not be ignored. I believe in grit. I believe it refers to key non-cognitive factors such as resilience, persistence, and growth mindset, traits that are critical to students’ success. And, yes, I believe that teachers, tutors, and mentors can impact the grit of individual students. Rather than focusing students on sprints — short-term bursts of academic work and attention — we want to coach them to run the marathon of preparing for long-term college and career success and deferring immediate gratification for the value of that larger prize. The idea of grit can help us change that. Teaching Grit  In practice, a key indicator of grit is students’ quit rate on difficult tasks. Students show grit when they accept error, even failure, as a necessary prerequisite to learning and progress. To understand each student’s level of grit, observe how long students maintain their attempts on difficult tasks. Look at how many ways they try to solve problems. Do they apply multiple approaches to address a difficult question? On a math problem, this might look like laying out the information graphically or trying another method of arriving at the answer. On a reading passage, this could include annotating the text, taking notes on the most important aspects or looking up difficult words. Students don’t develop these skills in a vacuum: teachers introduce them and encourage students to use these tools in their work. Teaching grit doesn’t require a new class or unit — it can be compatible with much in our current education system. At Academic Approach, we also believe in improving grit through tutoring and mentorship. The fact is that grit is an essential component [...]

By |2016-12-19T15:44:26+00:00December 19, 2016|News, Press|Comments Off on Grit in the Classroom – EdNews Daily

On the Front Line of Teaching ‘Grit:’ The Battle to Stop Students from Quitting – Education World

Grit, a term that emerged single-handedly from the work of University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Angela Duckworth, became an instant refresher for the argument that character education and non-cognitive skills have a place in education. But just as quickly as the term was popularized did it begin to receive criticism. Some argued that the grit phenomenon "romanticizes hardship" and distracts from what poor students really need to succeed. Others have argued against fully buying into the idea without sufficient research that proves it actually improves student achievement. Duckworth herself criticized the education community for using her research to promote high-stakes character assessment in this New York Times op-ed. However, whether you prefer to use the recently-popular term "grit" or prefer more old-fashioned terms like "perseverance" and "commitment," it doesn’t change the fact that helping students to continue trying despite being presented with challenges and difficulties will help them succeed. This is according to Matthew Pietrafetta, founder of the test preparation and tutoring center Academic Approach. Pietrafetta has been helping students by not only offering one-on-one tutoring services, but by also working directly with school leaders and faculty to provide instructional support for school-wide student success. For Pietrafetta, "teaching grit" can be defined as figuring out how to coach students through difficult moments in learning—moments that every student will encounter regardless of their ability or learning style. And unlike many, Pietrafetta doesn't believe this is anything new but rather something that educators inherently work with all the time. "Whether you know it or not as an educator—you're involved in coaching around mindset, around grit, around resilience," Pietrafetta says. Now, he says, it's important to focus on how educators are doing this by asking questions like: "How do educators provide opportunities for students to learn to have tools to show growth mindset, show resilience, show grit? How do we teach students to receive information in that moment and react with growth mindset rather than statically?" Finding the answer to these questions can be done by delving deeper into analysis of student work, especially on tests, to analyze their behavior and see how this analysis can be used to help them improve. Simplified, Pietrafetta says, a student will always react to lower than anticipated achievement based on one of two mindsets, as defined by the work of psychologist Carol Dweck. Static Mindset: "Oh gosh, that's who I am, I'll always and forever always be that." Growth Mindset: "That's interesting, I know I can do better than that, what do I need to improve? Can we go look at that math section? . . . Can you help me?" Figuring out which mindset a student has is critical to helping students succeed. For students with a static mindset, it's critical to figure out how to get them to stop quitting and keep trying—to be "gritty." Pietrafetta offers two examples of ways to effectively determine where a student stands. One way, he says, is by taking a look at their respective "quit rate." A quit rate is found by analyzing how many times a student got to a [...]

By |2022-02-04T17:23:52+00:00December 19, 2016|News, Press|Comments Off on On the Front Line of Teaching ‘Grit:’ The Battle to Stop Students from Quitting – Education World

My Journey to Impact Entrepreneurship – The Huffington Post “Pioneers for Change” Blog

I began my journey to impact entrepreneurship as a young teacher in New York City. In that role, I saw entrenched challenges such as disparities in test scores, college readiness, and student opportunities, as well as a chasm between test preparation and institutional education. Like anyone with an entrepreneurial mindset would, I began to look for ways to turn those challenges into opportunities for student growth and education innovation and quickly became passionate about the idea of revolutionizing test preparation. For decades, educators have questioned the value of test preparation, seeing it as too focused on “teaching to the test,” generic test-taking strategy for a nonexistent “average student.” As I considered the problem, I began to see an alternative — a method of test preparation that was based on academic skill development and customized for students at a wide range of achievement levels. I founded Academic Approach in 2001 to provide a sound test preparation alternative. Fifteen years later, we’ve seen that our Teaching Beyond the TestTM methodology both helps students achieve the standardized test scores they need to gain admission to the colleges of their choice and positions them to excel academically in high school, college, and beyond. Transforming test preparation into a personalized, academically enriching form of teaching is undoubtedly impactful and will always be at the core of Academic Approach’s mission. In addition, I believe that to truly maximize our impact and address those questions I often ask myself about barriers to education and college access, our company must find ways to reach students in underperforming schools and underserved communities. Academic Approach has developed its school programs services to support these students and their school leaders in raising student achievement, and we have served over 50 urban schools this past year. Academic Approach’s one-on-one tutoring and school programs services make a real difference for students who strive to maximize their academic performance and compete in the college admissions process. The educators and students we serve—and their remarkable growth and attainment — make Academic Approach a true social impact company, allowing us to bring our Teaching Beyond the TestTM methodology to a range of students, including some of those who need it most. While I didn’t necessarily imagine that my career as a teacher would lead me to a career as a social entrepreneur, now that I’ve gone down this road, I can’t imagine taking any other. Is impact entrepreneurship right for you? As social impact entrepreneurs, we go beyond the entrepreneurial question “what market needs can our company address?” to ask “what social problems can we solve?” The search for answers to questions like “How can we help all students acquire the academic skills necessary to succeed in college or career?” is what keeps me inspired as an educator and innovator at Academic Approach. If you’re looking to make a difference through entrepreneurship, find the questions that hold similar inspiration for you, and then consider how you could start a company aimed at answering those questions. How [...]

By |2016-10-18T15:46:14+00:00October 18, 2016|News, Press|Comments Off on My Journey to Impact Entrepreneurship – The Huffington Post “Pioneers for Change” Blog

Simple ways to ace the ACT (WGN Chicago)

Matthew Pietrafetta, founder of Academic Approach, gave some simple tips for students ahead of the ACT. Math Section: This section is 60 questions in 60 minutes. If you focus on the first 40 questions, you will maximize your time as they go in order of increasing difficulty. You can use your calculator for all items, but certain calculators are banned, like the TI Inspire with CAS, which many students use in school. Be careful to bring a calculator, with fresh batteries, that is permitted. English section: This section is 45 minutes and covers 75 questions. It is broken down in 5 passages, each with 15 questions, which need to be completed in 45 minutes. That’s 9 minutes per passage. Use a silent wristwatch to pace yourself.  English does not go in order of increasing difficulty, so you want to finish it all. #75 could be the easiest!   Eliminating redundancy is one of the high-impact skills tested. Be clear.  Be concise.  If you can express a thought in fewer words, do so.  Students tend to pad their writing with irrelevancy and redundancy; over 10% of ACT English items test against this tendency, placing a premium on concise expression. The Reading Section: On a standardized test of reading all answers exist in the passage, so this is a test of your ability to find evidence in a text.  Don’t go from imagination, outside knowledge, or gut.  If you can’t link it to the passage, you can’t think it.  Evidence is central to any answer you select.  Prove it. The Science Section: This whole section will test students’ ability to interpret charts, tables, and graphs, analyze and evaluate data. Tough part is that it’s the last multiple-choice section before the essay, so students are tired.  Working on endurance and speed is key to success on this section, so practice with a stopwatch: 35 minutes, 40 questions. That’s fast. The Essay: This sections is an optional 40-minute exercise. What matters most here?  Structure and evidence. If you can break your argument down to 4-5 paragraphs, this structure shows logic and development in your thinking. What’s ‘more, if you can provide detail, real compelling evidence to support your claim, then you are providing proof to persuade your audience.  Use structure and as much evidence as possible to show you understand the necessary skills for writing effectively and persuasively. View the original story: https://wgntv.com/2016/04/29/simple-ways-ace-the-act/

By |2022-02-07T16:04:34+00:00April 26, 2016|ACT, News, Press|Comments Off on Simple ways to ace the ACT (WGN Chicago)

The Big Payoff: Listen to Matthew Pietrafetta, Founder of Academic Approach, discuss student growth and development, standardized testing and academic skills assessment, the importance of soft skills and non-cognitive factors, as well as students with special learning needs.

https://soundcloud.com/thebigpayoff/matthew_pietrafetta We have become a nation of test takers. Standardized tests begin at age 5 and continue through our hiring processes to how we promote employees. But what are we measuring? If a culture becomes what it measures…what are we becoming? Matthew Pietrafetta founder of Academic Approach, Chicago’s preeminent test prep tutoring center, is an expert on the topic. After you listen, please answer the following: Did you find his perspective (a) surprising (b) enlightening (c) Fancy Rachel word (d) all of the above? https://bigpayoffradio.com/2015/05/testing-what-is-it-good-forwmatthew-pietrafetta-episode-18/

By |2015-05-06T15:54:19+00:00May 6, 2015|News, Press|Comments Off on The Big Payoff: Listen to Matthew Pietrafetta, Founder of Academic Approach, discuss student growth and development, standardized testing and academic skills assessment, the importance of soft skills and non-cognitive factors, as well as students with special learning needs.
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