Saturday, January 8, 2011

"The most subject tests that any American college now requires is two . . ."

Good to know about this new development.
THE nation’s most selective universities have long required three SAT subject tests. But with the introduction of writing sections on the SAT and ACT in 2005, colleges have been gradually reducing the subject-test requirement.

This admissions cycle, Harvard has jumped on the two-test bandwagon, and Georgetown is “strongly” recommending three instead of requiring them. The most subject tests that any American college now requires is two, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling. For 18 institutions, the ACT is good enough — no subject tests required at all.
The New Subject-Test Math: 2 = 3 - NYT

Taking content out of AP courses?

The prospect of paring down the content of any course raises a red flag for me.  With so much of today's curriculum appearing to be "content light", it doesn't seem wise to eliminate some of the domain knowledge critical for, well, critical thinking.  I will be curious to hear what Daniel Willingham says about this new development.
Next month, the board, the nonprofit organization that owns the A.P. exams as well as the SAT, will release a wholesale revamping of A.P. biology as well as United States history — with 387,000 test-takers the most popular A.P. subject. A preview of the changes shows that the board will slash the amount of material students need to know for the tests and provide, for the first time, a curriculum framework for what courses should look like. The goal is to clear students’ minds to focus on bigger concepts and stimulate more analytic thinking. In biology, a host of more creative, hands-on experiments are intended to help students think more like scientists.
. . .
“We really believe that the New A.P. needs to be anchored in a curriculum that focuses on what students need to be able to do with their knowledge,” Mr. Packer says. A.P. teachers made clear that such a shift was impossible unless the breadth of material covered was pared down. Courses in English and math are manageable, Mr. Packer says, and will not be revised until later.
The new approach is important because critical thinking skills are considered essential for advanced college courses and jobs in today’s information-based economy. College administrators and veteran A.P. teachers familiar with the new biology curriculum believe the changes could have significant reverberations for how science is taught in introductory college classes and even elementary school classrooms, and might bring some of the excitement back to science learning.
Rethinking Advanced Placement - NYT

Friday, January 7, 2011

High SAT scores are "just a given" for admission to top schools

I agree with Michele Hernandez and Mimi Doe of Application Boot Camp:
As we joyfully watch our students’ early acceptances come in, those getting into top schools had high standardized test scores! That’s just a given. Then comes the leadership, going above and beyond, etc.
They may be biased, considering they are selling SAT tutoring services.  However, my own observations are consistent with their advice.

High school graduates lack math skills needed for construction jobs

Joanne Jacobs writes about a problem.
When construction comes back, skilled workers will be needed to replace those pushed into early retirement by the long slump. But many young people don’t have the math skills to learn construction jobs, contractors fear.
From the linked article:
And construction is all about math. Everything from carpentry and brickwork to grading and sloping involves math.
Construction veterans are shocked at how few graduating students have functional math abilities. That’s why associations and contractors are trying to teach applied math skills