Like many parents, at this time of year you are probably anticipating and preparing for the start of a new school year. Back to school time is both exciting and stressful for all parents as children transition to new classrooms, new teachers, new routines, and new schools. Parents of neurodiverse teens often have to anticipate additional challenges associated with this time of transition such as handling executive functioning difficulties, embracing different classroom expectations, understanding friendships, and regulating emotions.
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At times, teenagers seem to speak a foreign language consisting of sighs, eye rolls, and shoulder shrugs that can be difficult to decode. But the yawn is one signal that is easily understood. And while a yawn typically signifies a need for sleep, lack of sleep among teens is a bigger problem than a simple nap can solve.
A student’s SAT scores are an important factor in the college admissions process. It’s important for your college-bound student to prepare for the SAT, and one way to do that is to take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which is offered every October to high school juniors. The PSAT is a great tool for measuring future success on the SAT, and it is also the way students are evaluated for National Merit Scholarships.
The College Board announced earlier this year that the redesigned SAT will be administered for the first time in March 2016. To help prepare students for this redesigned test, the PSAT/NMSQT is also being revised and will be administered for the first time in October 2015.
Here are some of the main changes planned for the new PSAT/NMSQT:
Longer Testing Time
- The new PSAT/NMSQT will have a total testing time of two hours and 45 minutes, giving students an extra 35 minutes to complete the exam.
- Along with this extended testing time, additional questions will be added. Now, students will have 165 minutes to complete 138 questions, rather than 130 minutes to complete 125 questions.
- The redesigned critical reading section will require students to focus on using evidence from the text and other sources to support answers.
- The writing and language portion of the exam will use vocabulary words in a variety of contexts and asks students to analyze how specific words enhance sentence meanings.
- The math section will be updated, using research that shows which areas of math are most important to college and career readiness, and a real-world approach will be used in creating questions.
- Unlike the current exam, only correct answers will be considered in scoring the new PSAT. Previously, students received one point for each correct answer, a one-quarter point deduction for each incorrect answer, and no points for blank answers. To give students more of an incentive to put their best effort into answering every question, the College Board will no longer deduct one-quarter point for each incorrect answer.
- Current score reports do not include subscores. However, the redesigned PSAT will include subscores in its score reports. This will provide students with more targeted information about what skills and content areas they need to work on before they take the SAT.
A+ will continue to provide you with information about changes to the PSAT/NMSQT and the SAT as we get closer to the implementation of these new exams.
Remember, summer is an ideal time to get a head start on preparing for the October PSAT/NMSQT. Learn more about our test prep programs here. You can also visit the College Board website to learn more about these changes.
Article contributed by: Gina Zappariello
For many students, it’s difficult to grasp this concept. If Emily has mastered a lesson, she wants to put her pencil down and walk away. If Scott has aced a test, he’s ready to throw away his notes from the cramming session the night before.
According to psychological studies, however, overlearning is important to successful retention of material and execution of tasks. “Don’t Just Learn -- Overlearn,” a blog post by Annie Murphy Paul, explains the empirical evidence behind overlearning.
A recent innovation in teaching is known as the “flipped classroom,” in which students watch recorded lessons at home, and work on homework and projects at school. With increased access to technology for the creation of educational videos, and a wide variety of instructional platforms and videos available online, this approach to teaching is gaining popularity.
Tina Rosenberg’s recent New York Times opinion article “Turning Education Upside Down,” focuses on flipped classrooms and how they work. Rosenberg advocates for this method of learning, citing proof from a couple of schools that have successfully adopted the approach.
There are many benefits to using the “flipped classroom” approach, but the following are our top five reasons why we love this teaching style:
1. A flipped classroom encourages hands-on or project-based learning.
The flipped classroom approach is centered on the student, and her progress in understanding material through practical application. The flip “frees up class time for hands-on work,” Rosenberg writes. “Students learn by doing and asking questions — school shouldn’t be a spectator sport.”
In addition, this approach stresses collaborative projects and group work, allowing students to partner together to find a solution. Collaborative learning can be one of the most effective ways to boost critical thinking and knowledge retention, according to a Journal of Technology Education article “Collaborative Learning Enhances Critical Thinking” by Anuradha A. Gokhale.
2. Teachers have more time to work one-to-one with students in a flipped classroom.
A flipped classroom provides students with the support they need, at the time they need it. Not all students have an environment at home that can provide help with homework. Sometimes these students get frustrated and give up on homework, Rosenberg notes.
With a flipped classroom, students can get immediate one-to-one answers to their questions. “In a traditional classroom, the teacher engages with the students who ask questions — but it’s those who don’t ask who tend to need the most attention,” according to Rosenberg. With a flip, the teacher can help coach students through the material, and has more time to monitor progress.
3. Students have time to digest the material and develop follow-up questions after viewing the material the night before.
If a student is confused about anything he’s watched in the online lesson, he can easily pause, rewind, and watch again. Teachers have transitioned from 20-minute videos to six-minute videos, Rosenberg says, to keep students’ attention and encourage repeated viewing.
4. Flipped classrooms bring creativity back to teaching.
The web provides access to thousands of lessons and videos that teachers can use to supplement their teaching. Technology has enabled teachers to have fun while filming a lesson, coming up with creative ways to teach a concept. One teacher interviewed in Rosenberg’s article said that “he feels like an ‘educational artist’ who doesn’t just talk and hand out sheets.” He continued, “‘I can create interactive lessons and exciting content. There’s so much more time to educate!’”
5. While further research on the efficacy of flipped classrooms is needed, initial results are encouraging.
Clintondale High School in Detroit is a fully “flipped school” with the results to back its change in teaching methods, according to the article. Graduation rates are up and the number of college graduates has increased dramatically since implementation.
To see more details on Clintondale’s success, click here for an infographic on Flipped Classrooms created by education software provider Knewton.
To read more about “flipped classrooms” and other approaches to learning, visit our blog, at aplustutoring.com/news.
Only 32 percent of fourth graders in the United States are proficient in reading. Just 39 percent are proficient in math, according to statistics from the National Assessment of Educational Progress.