This Summer Enrich Your Student with Customized Academic Skill Building

3 Key Steps to Getting Started with Academic Approach At Academic Approach, we know that no two students share the same academic strengths, learning style, or personality. Students are different in essential ways, so we make the time to develop a customized tutoring program for each one. This summer, we’ll be celebrating 20 years of helping students succeed through our approach, providing students with skills and strategies to increase both their standardized test scores and their overall academic performances. Students in 2020 were faced with difficult academic challenges: interrupted learning, cancelled benchmark testing, and a lack of consistent, individualized instruction. As your family plans to return to a ‘normal’ academic schedule in Fall 2021, our team at Academic Approach looks forward to providing you with the opportunities to support your student’s academic achievement and excellence. 1. Personalized Consultation: One of our expert directors will meet with your family to: Discuss your student’s unique needs, learning style, and aspirations Tailor an effective study plan that targets specific goals 2. Customized Tutoring Program: We’ll design a personalized program to: Identify high-impact gaps in skills & strategies through expert analysis Match your student to a tutor who provides a personalized one-on-one teaching experience Leverage our superior curriculum to help your student master high-impact skills Accommodate your family’s busy schedule 3. Ongoing Support: As students begin their programs, our directors will continue to work with your family to ensure your tutoring program meets your needs. Our goal is to guide and motivate your student consistently to become a more confident, successful test-taker and student. As the demand of the school year winds down this month, we see summer as a perfect time to engage academic enrichment opportunities for your student(s), especially our rising high school sophomores who are eager to launch their ACT/SAT prep. If you have questions about how we can work together to build a summer academic tutoring program that can enrich your student and work for your family, please reach out to us at 773-348-8914 or get in touch by filling out our contact form. Be well, Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2022-11-14T19:13:17+00:00May 6, 2021|Academic Approach|Comments Off on This Summer Enrich Your Student with Customized Academic Skill Building

You Just Took the April ACT…What Now?

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

By |2021-09-10T15:16:33+00:00April 29, 2021|Academic Approach|Comments Off on You Just Took the April ACT…What Now?

Standardized Test Administrations & The Operational Burden On Schools

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues: As we continue to work with you to navigate the uncertainty of fall test administrations of the ACT and the SAT, many questions about these tests—in particular, their accessibility—are being raised. While we focus principally on the instructional value of standardized tests, there’s no denying these issues, which reveal the operational burden the administration of these tests places on schools. The Operational Burden on Schools Schools are responsible for serving as test centers for either their own students or their own students and any other students who register. Administrative staff in the schools are responsible for organizing, planning, staffing, proctoring, ensuring compliant conditions, gathering, and mailing in all forms. One of the reasons for the recent breakdown in the planning, scheduling, and administration of the ACT and the SAT is this dependency, which has placed a massive burden on schools to consider – during a pandemic – how to balance priorities of access to testing for students along with student and staff safety. Effects on Accessibility Many high schools are attempting to provide opportunities students want to test, but conditions are changing fast, often leading to late-breaking site closures or reduced seats. We're also seeing schools offer new school day options for both SAT and ACT. Some schools have also opted to become "unlisted" test sites, offering national test days only to students enrolled at the school (while ACT scrambles to create more "pop-up" test sites to add seats this fall). Understanding the Root Causes & Navigating Ahead A thoughtful Chronicle of Higher Education article explores this particular issue with standardized testing: the operational dependency on schools for access to the test. This dependency in turn promotes inequities in access and demands resources from schools. This issue is at the root of some of the disorder and confusion we have seen, and we will continue to see, as we attempt to navigate the road ahead. We'll keep families up to date on trends and options for access to testing. We also recommend that families speak to their school administration about whether or not they will be offering a test for students. Be well, Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2021-09-10T15:19:24+00:00August 20, 2020|Academic Approach, Letter|Comments Off on Standardized Test Administrations & The Operational Burden On Schools

The Importance Of Teacher-Student Relationships

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:This week, we are focused on research on teacher-student relationships and the impact of those relationships on student achievement. This week also begins the first round of scores released for AP exams.AP score releaseStudents who took AP tests during the first window will receive their scores this week, beginning Wednesday for students in New York and Thursday for students in Illinois. Students can see the schedule and access their accounts here.Teacher-Student Relationships In our work with students, we know how important the relationship is between a teacher and a student; students spend an enormous amount of time with the teachers in their lives. A positive relationship can be essential to becoming a life-long learner, but a negative relationship can have serious long-term effects on a student's engagement in learning and school.Why are teacher-student relationships important?Education research often focuses on content or instructional strategies, and exceptional relationship-building may be overlooked. However, research dedicated to these relationships shows that they are not only essential for student satisfaction and enjoyment of school and learning, but that strong teacher-student relationships were associated with other essential academic behaviors and attitudes, both in the short term and the long term. These include increased academic engagement, higher attendance and grades, lower dropout rates, and fewer disruptive behaviors and suspensions. Importantly, these effects were present even when controlling for a variety of factors that often correlate with these behaviors and attitudes, such as student and school socioeconomic status.Strong relationships aren't just essential for students. Teachers with strong relationships with their students experience more joy and less anxiety in the classroom; these relationships were a strong predictor of teachers' emotional experiences in the classroom.For these reasons and others, we prioritize and carefully cultivate mentoring relationships between instructors and students in our programming. In the days ahead, we’ll explore the research on specific types of teacher-student relationships, how those relationships vary across demographics, and what the significance of this research is in light of considerations around continued remote learning for students.Be well,Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2020-07-13T16:21:50+00:00July 13, 2020|Academic Approach, Letter|Comments Off on The Importance Of Teacher-Student Relationships

Academic Approach on How to Keep Students Prepared for the Fall

Each fall, students return to their schools fresh off summer experiences and ready to learn. Teachers welcome the opportunity to build on the previous year’s achievements. However, research shows that students show up in the fall behind where they left in off in June. With the current challenges facing students and schools, this will likely be amplified this year. These losses tend to be especially pronounced in math and in the upper grades. Academic Approach is focused on how to keep our students academically prepared—both in maintaining knowledge for the fall and in building core academic skills necessary to keep them on track in high school and college. To address the rising concern of families and educators seeking to support their students academically, we have created new math enrichment packages and are offering our individual sessions of one-on-one tutoring at 25% off while schools remain closed. Current concerns and the challenge ahead Over an average summer, students lose as much as 25% of the previous school year’s learning. New research suggests this effect will likely be amplified this year, with students arriving in the fall with only 70% of their typical reading gains and less than 50% of their typical math learning gains. Students will leave this school year with a vastly different educational experience than they have in the past—and teachers are already concerned about how to address those learning gaps in the fall, when they will inherit a cohort of students who, in many ways, have not fully completed the grade before. What can families do? Analysis has shown that reading and math programming over the summer raised test scores and reduced the learning loss students experienced. This research showed that programs were most effective when incorporating high-quality instructional strategies, when students spent more time on task, and when students were engaged consistently throughout the summer. This can be our roadmap: with excellent instruction and engagement, students can stay academically on track even while out of school. What high-quality instructional moves can families make at home? The first is to identify the gaps: what were the skills and learning your student had not yet mastered this year that may be important in the future? By both assessing their progress so far and looking ahead to what they did not get to learn, you can develop a comprehensive assessment of what work is needed in the months ahead. How is Academic Approach addressing the challenge? We’re focused on how to keep our students academically prepared for the fall with the core academic skills necessary to keep them on track in high school and college. Our instructors are delivering engaging, personalized content to ensure that students won’t return to classrooms unprepared for the next year’s work, especially core math skills. We’re using our expertise in college readiness and skills-based teaching to support student academic progress and success in these challenging times. Originally Appeared on View Original Article

By |2022-02-04T15:12:21+00:00June 22, 2020|Academic Approach, Press|Comments Off on Academic Approach on How to Keep Students Prepared for the Fall

Summer Reading 101: The Essential Guide

As summer approaches, critical reading will be essential for continued academic progress. The best way to grow as a reader is to read more challenging texts. We've put together this recommended reading list--separated by genre and level--to help students select rigorous, challenging texts to engage with at home.   DOWNLOAD THE GUIDE View Our Other Resources

By |2022-02-04T15:20:48+00:00June 16, 2020|Academic Approach, One-on-One Tutoring, School Programs|Comments Off on Summer Reading 101: The Essential Guide

Understanding & Navigating Test-Optional Policies

The Basics Impact on Admissions Impact on Students Our Stance School-Specific Policies The Basics The impact of COVID-19 on education continues to be immense. With rapid school closures, a fast and sometimes rocky transition to e-learning, and even greater questions around access to education and resources, many colleges and universities have transitioned to being "test optional". What is "test optional"? Test optional means students are not required to provide any standardized testing scores when applying to a college or university, though they are still accepted, reviewed, and considered as part of the application. At test-optional schools, admissions officers will perform a holistic analysis of the students’ grades, rigor of the classes they’ve taken, and their other distinguishing accomplishments.  Test optional does not mean test blind. If students submit standardized testing scores as part of their application, those scores will be incorporated into the holistic analysis of the application and used to evaluate applicant fit. Some counselors have made the case that test scores are especially relevant now as grading policies and GPAs are being adjusted this spring and potentially this fall.  Policies shift for the Class of 2021. Many colleges have shifted to be test optional for the Class of 2021 in an effort to review applications in the most fair and flexible way. Considering the experiences of thousands upon thousands of low-income and low-access students, medically compromised students, and students with learning accommodations that cannot be fairly met because of school closures, testing access isn’t an even playing field. Each policy is different. Test-optional policies vary from school to school. Some schools actively encourage students to submit them, while others require alternative documents if not submitting a test score. Some programs within a university may have different policies than others at that same institution. It's important to research the revised policies at all schools of interest as their policies will likely differ. What is the goal? Increasing diversity on college campuses is a primary goal of test-optional policies. Advocates argue that de-emphasizing test scores and focusing primarily on high school class rank and GPA would allow great numbers of qualified minority, low-income, first generation, and other students to apply. Research behind this idea is inconclusive with both affirming and contradicting studies. The Impact on Admissions Multiple studies have been done to evaluate the impact of test-optional policies on college admissions through the lens of diversity, rankings, and student performance. The impact on diversity is uncertain. A study by the American Educational Research Association evaluated 180 selective liberal arts colleges in the US over the last 30 year period. Schools that implemented test-optional policies enrolled a lower proportion of underrepresented minorities than did test-requiring schools. At these schools, implementing test-optional policies did not decrease the diversity gap.Conversely, a smaller study by the National Association for College Admission Counseling gathered data from 28 colleges and universities that had test-optional policies. The found a similar increase in applicants, but also saw gains in the number of Black and Latino students applying and admitted. [...]

By |2020-06-08T16:55:04+00:00June 8, 2020|Academic Approach, News|Comments Off on Understanding & Navigating Test-Optional Policies

Video Interview: Peter Rastrelli

Dear Academic Approach Families and Colleagues:Today, I'm excited to share with you my interview with Dr. Peter Rastrelli. We spoke about executive functions, impacts of COVID-19 on student learning and routines, and the best ways to support students learning at home. I hope you enjoy our conversation. Be well,Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2020-04-30T16:45:12+00:00April 30, 2020|Academic Approach, Letter|Comments Off on Video Interview: Peter Rastrelli

Continuity in Education

What We Know: Summer Learning Loss Each fall, students return to their schools fresh off summer experiences and ready to learn. Teachers welcome the opportunity to build on the previous year’s achievements. Analysis has shown, however, that students often show up in the fall behind where they left off in June. Over the summer, students lose as much as 25% of the previous school year’s learning, and the typical loss is equivalent to approximately one month of school. What’s more, this loss is even more extreme for lower-income students, who typically have access to fewer resources for learning during the summer. New research suggests this effect will likely be amplified by the early end of the school year this year (called the “COVID slide”), with students arriving in the fall with only 70% of their typical reading gains and less than 50% of their typical math learning gains. Even as new online learning options are rolled out, with students unexpectedly out of school—possibly through the remainder of the school year—many schools and families may be concerned about the increased loss of learning through this spring and summer. Current Concerns and the Challenge Ahead With little to no time to prepare, many schools are working to get effective, engaging content in front of students as quickly as possible. Without much preexisting infrastructure for online learning, the challenges inherent in this quick adjustment have been pronounced. Even as students begin to engage in tasks and work provided by schools, educators at the school, district, and state level have acknowledged that the experience isn’t the same as what students would have encountered in school. End of year assessments have been cancelled, and AP exams have been adjusted to only include content that had been taught through the end of February. With a typical summer leading to about a month of lost learning, the potential of three additional months out of school could lead to two months of lost learning—or more. It’s undeniable that students will leave this school year with a vastly different educational experience than they have in the past—and teachers are already concerned about how to address those learning gaps in the fall, when they will inherit a cohort of students who have not, in many ways, fully completed the grade before. What Students and Families Can Do Successful efforts to reduce summer learning loss provide a helpful roadmap for the academic challenges teachers and students are currently encountering. Research has shown that academic engagement over the summer effectively reduces summer learning loss. Analysis showed that summer reading and math programming raised test scores and reduced the learning loss students experienced over the summer. This research showed that programs were most effective when incorporating high-quality instructional strategies, and when students spent more time on task, and when students were engaged consistently throughout the summer. The same is likely true for the current time frame: with excellent instruction and engagement, students can stay academically on track even while out of school. What [...]

By |2020-04-01T18:39:00+00:00April 1, 2020|Academic Approach, Covid-19 Resources|Comments Off on Continuity in Education

7 Ways for Students to Learn from Home

We know that you are experiencing transitions in your learning right now. We have created this guide to help you settle into a routine for academic work. Stay Organized You may notice that your organization needs to change at home. If you are finding that you are doing more of your schoolwork on an electronic device than you used to, it may be easier to keep things organized in a digital notebook. Your teachers may have recommended a digital note-taking app for you, but if they haven’t and you are looking for one, free apps that we like are Microsoft OneNote, Evernote, or Google Keep. Use a Calendar Tracking the due dates of your assignments will help too. You might have a calendar built into your school’s Learning Management System (LMS) like Canvas or Schoology. If you do, there are ways to import those calendars into your computer or phone calendar. If you don’t have access to an LMS, we recommend making a list of your assignments and due dates and putting those dates into a paper or digital calendar. Avoid Multitasking Multitasking can be really tempting when you are taking classes from behind a computer screen. We encourage you to try to avoid multitasking! Whether your school day classes are meeting as a large group or sending out individual assignments to complete, you will retain more knowledge if you give your full attention to the schoolwork in front of you. You will also find that you complete your assignments much more quickly if you aren’t trying to do two things at once.  Taking breaks, when possible, can also help you avoid multitasking. If you have a set of tasks to complete, try to give yourself 5- to 10-minute breaks every hour. If your school's e-learning schedule allows for it, try to take a five-minute break between classes. Knowing you have a break coming up can help you push through when you feel fatigued. Make the Most of Online Class Sessions During the School Day Find out how your teacher wants you to ask questions. If you are learning in Zoom or Canvas Conferences, there is a chat feature that your teacher has likely set up for you. Use that to ask questions. If you are learning in Zoom, there is also a feature to raise your hand so that your teacher can see that you have a question you want to ask. If your teacher assigns you to breakout rooms in Zoom, there is also a feature that will let you call your teacher with a question, if your group has one during your breakout room time.  No matter which platform your school is using, make sure you close distracting tabs, apps, and notifications on your computer, and set your phone to Do Not Disturb. Keep taking notes the same way you were taking notes in your classroom. If you weren’t taking notes before, this is a great time to get in the habit of doing that! If you [...]

By |2020-03-30T10:13:52+00:00March 30, 2020|Academic Approach, Covid-19 Resources|Comments Off on 7 Ways for Students to Learn from Home
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