Category Archives: Elementary School

Understanding Your Child’s State Test Scores

Understanding your Child’s State Test Scores

By Mary E. Miele M.A.Ed, Special Education Teacher

What tests did your child take?

Each spring, students in grades 3-8 take part in the New York State Testing Program as required under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The English Language Arts and Mathematics examinations given are based on the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) adopted by New York State in July 2010. However, it wasn’t until the 2012-2013 school year that the assessments in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics were used to measure a student’s progress towards mastering the Common Core Learning Standards. Students take the ELA and math assessments annually through grade 8. Science and Social Studies assessments are administered in grades 4 and 8 but are not Common Core aligned.

What skills are tested?

The ELA Common Core examination tests your child’s ability to comprehend key ideas and details presented in grade level texts. Their reading comprehension score is based on their responses to multiple choice questions that measure the common core learning standards. The mathematics common core examination tests your child’s ability to solve equations using the four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division), base ten, fractions, the number system, ratios and proportions, measurement and data, functions and geometry; which are determined by their grade level.

Your Score Report Decoded

You can locate your child’s score on your NYC Schools Account: https://www.mystudent.nyc/. You need to have your child’s ID number (found on his or her report card) as well as an Account Creation Code (provided by your child’s school) to register.

For both the ELA and Math examinations, there are four major scores reported.

Scale Score: The scale score is determined by the number of points your child earns on the test. The higher the number of points your child earned, the higher his or her scale score. There may be no scale score listed if, (1) your child did not complete a sufficient number of questions on the test to generate a score, (2) if your child was medically excused, or (3) if there was an administrative error.

Quick Tip: You should NOT compare your child’s scale score this year to the scale score from previous exam years. The range of scale scores change by grade level and should not be compared as they may falsely indicate a better/worse performance than what actually occurred.

Performance Level 2016-2017: Students are assigned a performance level based on how they perform on the test this year. There are four possible performance levels:

NYS Level 1: Students performing at this level are well below proficient in meeting grade level standards. The skills they demonstrate are insufficient to meet grade expectations and Common Core Learning Standards.

NYS Level 2: Students performing at this level are somewhat proficient in meeting grade level standards. The skills they demonstrate are on track to meet current New York high school graduation requirements but are insufficient to meet Common Core Learning Standards.

NYS Level 3: Students performing at this level are proficient in meeting grade level standards. The skills they demonstrate are sufficient to meet Common Core Learning Standards.

NYS Level 4: Students performing at this level are currently excelling in meeting the grade level standards. The skills they demonstrate are more than sufficient to meet grade level and Common Core Learning Standards.

Overall State Percentile Rank: The percentile rank compares your child’s scale score to the scores of other NY state students who took the same test this year. The rank is reported on a scale of 1-99. The higher your child’s percentage rank, the better your child did compared to other students. For example, if your child’s percentage rank is 50%, it means that your child did better than 50% of all students in their grade who took the test.

Performance Level 2015-2016: The second performance level listed indicates your child’s performance in the previous year’s examination. The 2015-2016 performance level can be compared to the 2016-2017 performance level (this year’s level) to determine if your child has improved. If your child’s performance level is lower this year than last year, it can indicate that there may be some interventions that are needed to ensure that your child continues to progress. These interventions can include providing test preparation, tutoring, and/or test accommodations offered through a 504 plan or Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

Quick Tip: Students taking the 3rd grade test will not have a previous year performance level as this is the first year of administration. Use this year’s performance level as a baseline to compare to in future years.

Next Steps

Understanding your child’s results is just the first part. While the results may or may not have been what you expected, your understanding of the results can help you support your child during the school year and help them prepare for their next assessment.

If your child’s performance was a Level 1 or Level 2:

  • Speak to your child’s teacher to get an understanding of what standards they struggle with the most. Ask for suggestions on how you can support learning at home.
  • If you went through tutoring support, review that support with your child’s tutor and create a list of what improvements could be made for next year’s process.
  • Advocate for your child to receive additional support as needed. Students whose performance level is either Level 1 or Level 2 are eligible for academic intervention services (AIS) from their schools.
  • Speak to your child about their testing experience. Ask about any fears, anxieties or difficulties they faced during testing. Your child’s feedback may help you determine what type of support they need during this time.
  • Find ways to help your child practice skills outside of school. For example, household activities like cooking, baking and shopping can help your child practice skills that will help them during testing. These activities can help students develop skills such as following multi-step directions and calculating measurements that are assessed during testing.
  • Encourage independent reading at home. All children can benefit from additional independent reading time, not just struggling students. However, some students are more hesitant to pick up a book and read without encouragement. Find a book series or genre that your child particularly enjoys and don’t worry about how “educational” it is. Even magazines, newspapers and comic books can be good material to encourage reading.
  • Consider having your child evaluated for special education services for additional support that they may need. Many students struggle silently with learning disabilities that are unsupported and are not allowing them to demonstrate all that they know and can do. Students who qualify for special education services are entitled to receive support throughout the school year and testing accommodations during assessments. Testing accommodations that may be considered include breaks during testing, administration in a distraction free location and questions read aloud. These supports can make all the difference for some students. In addition, even if they receive these supports, there are no future implications on their post-secondary school and career options.

If your child’s performance was a Level 3 or Level 4:

  • Continue to encourage your child’s progress and do not look at the results as a reason to lower expectations for their performance. Some children (and parents) develop a false confidence that can cause them to slack on school and homework. Learning is a continual process that should be guided by your child’s curiosity and your encouragement.
  • Challenge your child’s critical thinking skills. Regardless of what grade level tests they take, all assessments test your child’s ability to think critically and analyze information presented. Help your child develop critical thinking skills by asking open ended questions, encouraging them to make decisions independently, and having them make connections between what they learn and what they experience in life.
  • Help your child develop their group work skills, their social skills and reinforce academic skills by having them act as a peer tutor. School is a very important aspect to a child’s social life and development. Giving students the opportunity to interact with their peers in an academic setting is preferred by many. Many advanced students thrive in this leadership opportunity. In addition, some struggling students benefit from learning directly from their peers.
  • Speak to your child’s school about possible early promotion. Can they be switched to a higher level math class based on a strong performance? While you don’t want to push them if they are not ready, you also want to ensure that they are appropriately challenged for their ability levels. Nothing is worse than a student who loses motivation due to being “bored” and unchallenged in the classroom. Inquire about enrichment programs that may be a good fit for your child.

Note about how to discuss your child’s results: 

The way you handle your child’s test results is a very personal choice and decision. I’m simply making some suggestions here from my experience in working with families and students to help navigate your own process.

What should I share with my child? 

I advise being factual about test results with children. Tell them the scores matter of factly and work with them on a plan for what they will do to meet expectations this coming year. Provide suggestions on how to talk about their test scores with peers — or better yet advise them to keep testing information private. Even if scores are at expectation, it is important to review the preparation and make a list of what worked and what did not work.

What should our “talk” look like? 

Give factual information. If you are feeling elated, excited, upset, frustrated, disappointed, or angry — cope with your feelings first. Talk with your child when you are calm. Ask your child a series of precise questions about the results and the preparation process such as: What do you think of these results? Do you have any questions? How do you feel your preparation went this year? Did you have enough time for instruction, enough independent practice, enough mock assessments? Did you have a successful mindset, discipline and/or attitude about the testing? What skills and concepts are solid and what may need improvement?

Write out the answers and use them to create a “goal sheet” for this coming year.

In addition to interpreting results and talking with your child about the goals, give your child a way to talk about testing with friends and teachers. I think if all parents talked with their children about the fact that results are private information — we would be all better off. But, since the questions and conversations do tend to happen — you may want to suggest your child know what to say if friends start to ask. If a friend asks, “What did you get on the ELA?” The student may be able to just say, “I did great – how did you do?” and give them ways to handle the peers who may really want to know a number, “You know, I don’t really want to publicize my numbers — that’s really private info, you know!” is a great line to use, for instance. Preparedness will help students to feel better about their social interactions.

What if my child did not meet expectations? 

First of all, remember that these are test scores, and while they are one important aspect of your child’s academic experience, they are also a snapshot of that one experience. Any number of variables may contribute to a child’s success during test taking. At Evolved, we view children as whole people — academics, learning, school and home experiences as well as their social, emotional and physical development come into play at any time during their testing.

If you are feeling disappointed in the results, it may be best to talk with me or with your spouse or another parent before you speak to your child. You want your mindset to be one of constructive criticism instead of destructive criticism. The point is — be frustrated, be disappointed, and then get to work on supporting your child. And remember — this is your child’s journey. It may not go the way you have planned, but it will work out and we can partner together to support you and your child along the way!

What if I don’t want to talk with my child right now? 

I would say that if your child is in 3rd or 4th or maybe even 5th grade that is okay, but if their friends will be talking about it, it is best for you to talk with your child about the results first. You will want your child to be able to ask you questions and not their friends. Most children have been involved in the preparation for the ELA and NYS Math Tests, so they are aware that results will come out. While they may not be aware of this happening this week, once they get back to school, they may have conversations with their friends about the tests.

Other questions? Contact me — I am happy to help!

If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact me at mary@evolveded.com or at 917 388 3862.

 

Camp is over – How to prepare for a successful September

Camp is over – How to prepare for a successful September

And Why Early Bedtimes Matter

By Mary Miele Learning Specialist and Founder of Evolved Education

I never went to sleepaway camp, but when I was in college, I came home for a summer to work and stay in my childhood home. The transition back home after living away and on my own for the year at school was tremendously challenging. I remember having a hard time communicating with my parents and siblings. I had to account for family member’s routines and needs. I was asked to help around the house and with the care of my sisters. It was hard to live away from home and then come back to live there.

I can only imagine how the transition back home after sleep away camp is for our young students. Camp requires a level of independence and all children will change and grow over the course of time, so who you dropped off at the start of the summer will be different than who you pick up. Adjusting to the changes which happen over 4,  6 or 8 weeks requires some time. The transition won’t happen overnight.  In addition, camp is exhausting. Children tend not to put their guard down and relax completely until they are home. This is normal. A mother I spoke to yesterday let me know that her ten year old son has been sleeping and playing video games ever since he got back. He seems “out of it”.  Sleep and rest seem really necessary all of a sudden.

When I write these kinds of blogs I consider what our clients are struggling with and try to offer some perspective and expertise to help. So, if your child is transitioning into school again (and yes, that transition starts a few weeks BEFORE school begins), here are some nuggets of advice that could help you navigate the transition with your child:

  • Get into the routine of school again. My pediatrician and I were speaking yesterday about my son’s sleep. He’s 10 and can’t seem to get enough of it. I had been letting him sleep in, but she let me know that “sleeping in” is terrible sleep. The better way to get better sleep is to get to bed early. I proposed an early bed time to my son this week – he was shockingly fine with it! So, at 7:45, we are all settling in. He can read, he can relax, but he’s in his bed, with no electronics and no TV. It’s complete down time. He has to be up at 7 for his activities during these weeks, and that is still a little tough for him, but the early bed time ensures that he’s getting enough sleep to function, and I just started this with him–I know through experience that it’s important to give new routines at least two weeks to make a difference. So my advice to you is to stick with the changes over time until you make a judgment call that they are working or not.

 

  • Involve your child in the transition plan. Yes, I did say “plan”. It’s important for children to learn how to plan ahead and parents in this day and age do not typically give their children enough opportunities to be in the driver’s seat to make these plans. I’m guilty too – it’s so much easier just to take the reigns myself. I’m great at planning. I’ll make some playdates and go to the library. School will be here in no time. This approach is not the best for any child, though. It short circuits their opportunity to activate neurons in their brain. Instead, sit your child(ren) down and ask them what they need to do to transition back to school. Mention the idea from the pediatrician about an earlier bedtime. Talk about what options the children have for activities during their daytimes. Show them a calendar so they can see how much time they have until school begins. Involve your child in creating a list of action items everyone will do to prepare for the transition. Parents with teenagers may need to involve a professional to run interference to help with the planning. I find that most teenagers resist the advice of their parents and outsourcing the creation of these plans to a mentor, tutor or education professional can be extremely helpful. One student of ours was just set up with this kind of support — she was procrastinating doing her summer work. Her mother was getting very stressed about it and called us for support. We sent over an Evolved Education ELA teacher who worked with her child on getting the assignment started and mapping out a plan. Since we are a whole child company, the teacher also talked with the student about her overall transition plan — when she would get supplies, what clothes she needed to get for the start of school, what her am routine would be like (she’s starting high school in the fall), what her feelings were about the start of a new school and grade 9!! The ELA teacher partnered with our student’s mother to bridge communication and help with ways to effectively support her daughter.  The ELA teacher Skyped with the student over the course of last week and will do so this week to check in and to provide accountability to be sure the work is getting done. This sort of support allowed the student to become prepared and her mother to relax and focus on enjoying some time with her daughter instead of fighting over the summer work assignment. For some teenagers, there are preferred ways to receive support from parents, and our teachers have an understanding of how to help parents understand how teenagers need to be supported. The transition to middle, high school and college are transitions for parents as well – in many ways parents are all undergoing great changes as school begins.

 

  • Trouble shoot challenges and get support before they snowball. A client of ours called in to discuss a common challenge for our middle, high school and college age students and that is to complete summer work. Most students have to leave this work to the last few weeks of August because of camp and travel. Students get overwhelmed when they look at a 300 page book that has been mandated to read. Starting is hard and keeping the stamina going to really read something with great focus and attention to detail is tiring — if you don’t believe me, try it along with your student. It’s a great exercise to do. Help your child by doing some paired work (you work while they work). Read the book aloud to your child and be sure they take great notes — this causes them to be very prepared for the start of school. The more prepared a student is for the start of school, the happier they are to be there!

 

  • Know that transitioning is a process. This process will begin now, but it will not end when school begins. Often students are on a high during the first week of schoool– there is excitement in seeing friends and teachers again, in getting the supplies and starting a new grade. About a week or so into school, children can experience some anxiety, sadness, or stress. This is usually very normal and it is also where early bedtimes, strong support systems, and plenty of parent-child face time can be helpful.

If you have an issue that you are concerned about, email me to book a call at mary@evolveded.com.  When you plan and work in a supportive way through the back to school transition, it can be a magical time!

ELA and NYS Math Test Preparation

New York State Testing Preparation at The Evolved Education Company

The Evolved Education Company is offering small group classes, mock testing and private lessons to support students in preparation for the NYS Tests this Spring. Here is what you need to know about the tests and our offerings.
Dates for Tests
 
  • ELA: Tuesday, March 28 – Thursday, March 30
  • NYS Math: Tuesday, May 2 – Thursday, May 4
What to Know about This Year’s Tests
  • This year’s tests are shorter in length
  • There is no time limit on the test
  • The tests contains complex questions (for both ELA and NYS Math)
  • The questions test understanding of concepts, not just mastery of skills.
  • Math contains multi-step problems

What to know about the ELA Test

Questions are text based and students should find answers in the text. There are a good amount of “prove it” questions — requiring students to go back to the text to find the answers and to back up their answers with text evidence.

Passages will be authentic and will be balanced between information and literacy text. For grades 3-5, the texts will balance  information and literacy topics. For grades 6-8, the texts will also include subject-based texts. Students should be familiar with academic vocabulary.

The ELA Test will include passages to read and multiple choice questions, short response questions and extended response questions.

Students should be able to do the following:

  • Find Main Idea by pulling quotes, summarizing them, answering a questions such as “a title similar to this passage would be…”
  • Make Inferences
  • Understand Structure and Craft
  • Be able to read and understand texts above grade level
What to know about the NYS Math Test
The math test focuses on priority standards. Students are required to write out their answers, demonstrate deep understanding of concepts, fluency and application skills.
The test contains multi-step words problems, short answer and extended response questions where the answer must be described using words.
Students must practice reading directions and following them. Some are complex.
For older students who are dealing with finding percent off and tip, they will need to master the concept and skill to solve these multi-step problems.
Often problems relate to real life –such as using a menu, money, sales tax, tip, or riddles.
Test Preparation Class Information

GREAT PREPARATION BEGINS WITH GREAT TEACHING
Introduction

Performance on state tests have an impact on student choice when it comes to middle and high school admissions, particularly for 4th and 7th graders. At EEC, we will defuse the anxiety and stress built up around the process. We instill confidence in our students as we help them to deconstruct the tests, how to approach each question and manage their time on the test day. We make our courses fun and engaging!

EEC Test-Preparation Program: ELA and MATH for 3rd through 8th Graders 

Differentiation: The first part of the program involves getting to know our students. We use the Evolved Education Paradigm and a placement test for ELA and MATH  to determine how each student can thrive in our program. We learn and evaluate a student’s academic history, learning styles, school environment, family environment and social-emotional-physical quotient prior to creating the student’s individualized and custom-tailored program.


Based on the information we gather, we create a test-preparation program that combines content and strategy.  Where applicable: some of the lessons will be whole-class, but most will be created for individuals or small groups of students with similar needs and will include study tactics and approaches and test-taking techniques to alleviate test-taking anxiety and ensure optimal performance on these standardized tests.

Curriculum: We teach both content and strategy and have found it is often best to weave the two together. For example, if we are building vocabulary, we will simultaneously teach students how to look for common root words. For the ELA and NYS Math courses we are ensuring mastery in the priority items for each test and giving plenty of guided and independent practice. In addition, because of our education background and pedagogical strengths, we are able to create lessons that include hands-on activities, games to improve mastery and motivation, and traditional, stamina-building test preparation exercises.

Materials: According to the Department of Education, the exams have been redesigned to cover a broader range of performance indicators including common core standards.  Our preparation materials will reflect the new test formats and common core standards. We use a combination of typical test preparation materials. However, our master test-prep tutors will heavily supplement lessons according to student’s’ individual needs.

Class Structure: Group classes vary according to needs; one-to-one classes are structured according to the specific needs of the student and his or her family.

Teachers: Each test preparation class is taught by certified and trained EEC teachers, and is supervised and overseen by EEC Test Preparation Lead, Christina Amendola. Christina will visit in-class lessons, and she will oversee the curriculum development. She will be collecting and maintaining data analysis on each student’s progress, and working to identify and address specific learning differences so as to determine how lessons will be differentiated and scaffolded, unlocking the potential for each student in the program. What this means for our students is that they will each have careful attention and meaningful instruction in preparation for the State Tests. 

The Evolved Education’s Mock Testing Program

One of the most challenging aspects of taking a standardized test is the newness factor. Even for a seemingly simple task like using one’s pencil to fill in a bubble sheet can be thrown off by testing in a room full of strangers in a strange place or sitting for the unusually long period of time required by most standardized tests.

EEC’s mock testing program involves creating an environment that mirrors the actual test day. The information gathered from each student’s practice test is used to inform future lessons so as to ensure improvement. Each test is graded, data is collected, and feedback including specific follow-up work is provided prior to the next lesson. Additionally, we are able to provide accommodations for students with IEPs or 504s.

Each mock test is given a number grade and detailed feedback. Individual recommendations regarding the number of recommended practice tests an individual student takes will be made as the course progresses. 

There is an additional fee for mock testing and they can register by clicking here.
Here are the dates:
1/22
1/29
2/5
2/12
2/26
3/5
3/12
3/19
3/26
4/2
4/9
4/23
4/30

The Evolved Education’s Partnership with Parents and Caregivers

Inherent to EEC’s whole-child philosophy is our belief that families play a crucial role in the educational endeavors of their children at all points of the educational process. Knowledge is power; and, we empower families with our knowledge not only of what their children are learning, but how they are learning. We provide families with the tools they need to support their children at home in order to make any test preparation process successful.

Teachers will provide families with weekly reports for each student.

The EEC Paradigm and Track Record

Our company’s support for each member of our community, whether their program be one-to-one, small-group, large-group, online or in-person, is individualized. Each child, family and school is unique and our Evolved Education Paradigm allows us to recognize and honor each student’s distinctive strengths and challenges.

EEC provides top quality customized test preparation courses. Families that contract with EEC do so through an understanding and recognition of the importance of a test preparation program that works within a paradigm that is developmentally appropriate for prepubescent and pubescent children because doing so ensures each student will reach his or her academic potential. Of the students we have worked with 99% of them have scored within the top 75% of students who take standardized tests and over 95% of them have scored within the top 99% of the students who take standardized tests. We have a track record of excellent results and look forward to helping your children reach their highest potential!

 

NYC Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten Admissions Information

Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten NYC Admissions Planning

By: Mary E. Miele

Before you endeavor in education planning, we want you to take a few minutes to think about your child in terms of each of the following ways:

  1. Record your child’s academic history.
  • What has your child’s experience been like? Formal? Informal? Private? Public?
  • What academic experiences has your child had so far?
  • What are your concerns and/or what are your child’s concerns?
  1. Write about your child’s learning style.
  • Find a chart in the book on page 36.
  • Does your child have a diagnosis of any kind which may affect his or her learning or emotional well-being?
  1. Write about your child’s school.
  • How does your child perform at his or her school currently?
  • What does your child love about school? What does he or she not love about school?
  1. Write about your family.
  • What are your family’s education values? What kind of school do you want your child to be in and what type of education is important to you? 
  1. Tell us about your child socially, emotionally and physically.
  • How is your child developing socially, emotionally and physically
  • Go to page 85 in the book to learn more about how to monitor your child’s social, emotional and physical development.

Pre-Kindergarten Process Information

For the UPREK Process, here are some great links and resources:

For Independent School Information:

Kindergarten Process Information

Public School:

Independent School:

Religiously Affiliated School:

Please continue to revisit EEC and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for up to the date information about our speaking series in 2017! And Email us today for a free consultation to find out how we can help you with the Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten admission process.

 

 

 

Five Ways to Celebrate Your Whole Child During Parent Teacher Conferences

Five Ways to Celebrate Your Whole Child During Parent Teacher Conferences

by: Mary Miele
Parent Teacher Conferences are our favorite times of the school year! These meetings provide important opportunities for parents and educators to form partnerships which benefit the social, emotional, physical and academic development of a child. The following are five ways to celebrate your whole child during parent teacher conferences. 
Before you arrive
1) Think about your child in terms of the whole child:
  • What is his or her academic history and experience? What has and is going well? What are some challenges you notice your child having? What books does your child love to read?
  • What is his or her learning style and skills?
  • Reflect on how the school experience is going for your child. What do you hear is going well and what do you hear has been difficult?
  • Review how learning is being supported at home. What do you feel is working and what advice do you need from your child’s educator?
  • Take your child’s social-emotional-physical-academic quotient and determine areas of strength and areas of challenge. Be ready to share these with your child’s teacher. *The SEPAQ is an inventory you can use to identify strengths and areas of challenge within a child’s social, emotional and physical development. 
During the conference
2) Listen to your child’s teacher’s report. Jot down notes within each category of your whole child.
  • Academics
  • Learning Style and Skills
  • School Environment
  • Family Environment
  • Social-Emotional-Physical Development
3) Share the information you have gathered and ask important questions.
Does the information I share with you help you to improve his/her learning experience in school/in your class?
What can I do at home to support my child?
Does my child seem happy at school? Has she/he made friends?
Does my child participate in whole group activities as well as small group work?
After the conference
4) Write up a summary of the conference and share it with your child’s teacher. 
You may organize this using the list provided above in step 2, or just type up your notes from the conference along with next steps.
5) Partner with your child’s educator to create a plan for how to use areas of strength to improve areas of concern. 
Each educator will want to approach this differently. It’s important for parents to ask educators how they’d like to proceed with the plan, as they might prefer to take the lead on the instructional needs.
For more resources on developing parent and educator partnerships, which support the development of the whole child, please read Supporting School: A Guidebook for Parents and Educators by Mary Miele and Deanna Hyslop.

Understanding your Child’s State Test Scores

Title: Understanding your Child’s State Test Scores

By Nicole Lucien M.S.Ed, Special Education Teacher

What tests did your child take?

Each spring, students in grades 3-8 take part in the New York State Testing Program as required under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The English Language Arts and Mathematics examinations given are based on the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) adopted by New York State in July 2010. However, it wasn’t until the 2012-2013 school year that the assessments in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics were used to measure a student’s progress towards mastering the Common Core Learning Standards. Students take the ELA and math assessments annually through grade 8. Science and Social Studies assessments are administered in grades 4 and 8 but are not Common Core aligned.

Quick Tip: The results from the ELA and Math Common Core Tests are not included in your child’s official transcript or permanent student record at this time. However, that can change in the future.

What skills are tested?

The ELA Common Core examination tests your child’s ability to comprehend key ideas and details presented in grade level texts. Their reading comprehension score is based on their responses to multiple choice questions that measure the common core learning standards. The mathematics common core examination tests your child’s ability to solve equations using the four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division), base ten, fractions, the number system, ratios and proportions, measurement and data, functions and geometry; which are determined by their grade level.

What was different this year?

More Teacher Input: Based on the feedback given to the New York State Education Department (NYSED), there were a few changes made to the examinations administered this year. The NYSED has significantly increased the number of educators who are involved in creating and reviewing the assessments. This will help ensure that assessments are rigorous but fair for all students.

Shorter Test Length: One consistent recommendation made to NYSED was to reduce the length of the test. Based on this feedback, the assessments administered this year had a reduced number of test questions on both the ELA and Math tests. Specifically, the ELA test had one less passage and fewer comprehension questions to allow students more time to read the passages more closely. For the math test, students also had fewer questions to answer.

No Time Limits: The biggest change implemented this year is a shift to untimed testing for all students. Feedback from educators indicated that students found it difficult to work at their own pace under the timed conditions. With the shift to untimed testing, students were given more of an opportunity to demonstrate what they know and what they can do. Guidelines indicate that as long as students were working productively, they were allowed as much time as they need to complete the test.

Quick Tip: Assessments are continually updated based on student performance and feedback. The shorter test length and unlimited time are not guaranteed for this upcoming school year. Speak to your child’s school before the upcoming state tests this spring to see if there are any changes to these guidelines.

Your Score Report Decoded

You can locate your child’s score on your NYC Schools Account: https://www.mystudent.nyc/. You need to have your child’s ID number (found on his or her report card) as well as an Account Creation Code (provided by your child’s school) to register.

For both the ELA and Math examinations, there are four major scores reported.

Scale Score: The scale score is determined by the number of points your child earns on the test. The higher the number of points your child earned, the higher his or her scale score. There may be no scale score listed if, (1) your child did not complete a sufficient number of questions on the test to generate a score, (2) if your child was medically excused, or (3) if there was an administrative error.

Quick Tip: You should NOT compare your child’s scale score this year to the scale score from previous exam years. The range of scale scores change by grade level and should not be compared as they may falsely indicate a better/worse performance than what actually occurred.

Performance Level 2015-2016: Students are assigned a performance level based on how they perform on the test this year. There are four possible performance levels:

NYS Level 1: Students performing at this level are well below proficient in meeting grade level standards. The skills they demonstrate are insufficient to meet grade expectations and Common Core Learning Standards.

NYS Level 2: Students performing at this level are somewhat proficient in meeting grade level standards. The skills they demonstrate are on track to meet current New York high school graduation requirements but are insufficient to meet Common Core Learning Standards.

NYS Level 3: Students performing at this level are proficient in meeting grade level standards. The skills they demonstrate are sufficient to meet Common Core Learning Standards.

NYS Level 4: Students performing at this level are currently excelling in meeting the grade level standards. The skills they demonstrate are more than sufficient to meet grade level and Common Core Learning Standards.

Quick Tip: The New York City Department of Education has indicated that state test results will not have promotion consequences for students until at least the 2019-2020 school year. Results of the state test are only one measure of your child’s performance and should be considered in conjunction with student work on classroom assignments, projects, essays, and other assessments. However, private, parochial or catholic schools may have their own promotion criterion that incorporates Common Core test results. Speak to your child’s school in the beginning of the school year about the promotion criteria for their grade level and what assessments and metrics are used as part of promotion consideration. Then follow up with teachers throughout the school year to see how your child is progressing towards the promotion criteria. This can help you spot any difficulties they may be having so that additional help and remediation can be arranged with their teacher as early as possible.

Overall State Percentile Rank: The percentile rank compares your child’s scale score to the scores of other NY state students who took the same test this year. The rank is reported on a scale of 1-99. The higher your child’s percentage rank, the better your child did compared to other students. For example, if your child’s percentage rank is 50%, it means that your child did better than 50% of all students in their grade who took the test.

Quick Tip: Keep in mind that if your child was held back, their percentage rank is compared to students in their grade level, not their age. Keep this in mind when considering the percentile rank.

Performance Level 2014-2015: The second performance level listed indicates your child’s performance in the previous year’s examination. The 2014-2015 performance level can be compared to the 2015-2016 performance level (this year’s level) to determine if your child has improved. If your child’s performance level is lower this year than last year, it can indicate that there may be some interventions that are needed to ensure that your child continues to progress. These interventions can include providing test preparation, tutoring, and/or test accommodations offered through a 504 plan or Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

Quick Tip: Students taking the 3rd grade test will not have a previous year performance level as this is the first year of administration. Use this year’s performance level as a baseline to compare to in future years.

Next Steps

Understanding your child’s results is just the first part. While the results may or may not have been what you expected, your understanding of the results can help you support your child during the school year and help them prepare for their next assessment.

If your child’s performance was a Level 1 or Level 2:

  • Speak to your child’s teacher to get an understanding of what standards they struggle with the most. Ask for suggestions on how you can support learning at home.
  • Advocate for your child to receive additional support as needed. Students whose performance level is either Level 1 or Level 2 are eligible for academic intervention services (AIS) from their schools.
  • Speak to your child about their testing experience. Ask about any fears, anxieties or difficulties they faced during testing. Your child’s feedback may help you determine what type of support they need during this time.
  • Find ways to help your child practice skills outside of school. For example, household activities like cooking, baking and shopping can help your child practice skills that will help them during testing. These activities can help students develop skills such as following multi-step directions and calculating measurements that are assessed during testing.
  • Encourage independent reading at home. All children can benefit from additional independent reading time, not just struggling students. However, some students are more hesitant to pick up a book and read without encouragement. Find a book series or genre that your child particularly enjoys and don’t worry about how “educational” it is. Even magazines, newspapers and comic books can be good material to encourage reading.
  • Consider having your child evaluated for special education services for additional support that they may need. Many students struggle silently with learning disabilities that are unsupported and are not allowing them to demonstrate all that they know and can do. Students who qualify for special education services are entitled to receive support throughout the school year and testing accommodations during assessments. Testing accommodations that may be considered include breaks during testing, administration in a distraction free location and questions read aloud. These supports can make all the difference for some students. In addition, even if they receive these supports, there are no future implications on their post-secondary school and career options.

If your child’s performance was a Level 3 or Level 4:

  • Continue to encourage your child’s progress and do not look at the results as a reason to lower expectations for their performance. Some children (and parents) develop a false confidence that can cause them to slack on school and homework. Learning is a continual process that should be guided by your child’s curiosity and your encouragement.
  • Challenge your child’s critical thinking skills. Regardless of what grade level tests they take, all assessments test your child’s ability to think critically and analyze information presented. Help your child develop critical thinking skills by asking open ended questions, encouraging them to make decisions independently, and having them make connections between what they learn and what they experience in life.
  • Help your child develop their group work skills, their social skills and reinforce academic skills by having them act as a peer tutor. School is a very important aspect to a child’s social life and development. Giving students the opportunity to interact with their peers in an academic setting is preferred by many. Many advanced students thrive in this leadership opportunity. In addition, some struggling students benefit from learning directly from their peers.
  • Speak to your child’s school about possible early promotion. Can they be switched to a higher level math class based on a strong performance? Should they be considered to skip a grade? While you don’t want to push them if they are not ready, you also want to ensure that they are appropriately challenged for their ability levels. Nothing is worse than a student who loses motivation due to being “bored” and unchallenged in the classroom. Inquire about enrichment programs that may be a good fit for your child.

 

You Have Gotten a Spot in a NYC Public School

Congratulations! Now What?

An EEC Primer for Parents of Children Transitioning to a NYC Public School by Gina Rotundo at The Evolved Education Company

Transitioning to a public school as a new student or a transfer student will mean an adjustment period for you and your children. It is an exciting time! If you’re armed with lots of information, you can ensure a smooth transition for you and your children. You will not be handed a guide on the first day of school explaining who is who and whom does what. Then one day, you will receive communication from a member of the school staff and you will ask yourself, “Who is this person and what is this person’s role?” The New York City Department of Education (DOE) is the largest school district in the United States, serving 1.1 million students in over 1,800 schools. This link will bring you to an organizational chart explaining the DOE Leadership.  The purpose of this primer is to help you and your children experience a smooth transition to a NYC public school, to know who is who and what is what, and to learn some at-home strategies you can use to help facilitate a seamless transition.

Who’s Who in a NYC Public School?

*These roles are not listed in hierarchal order, nor order of importance. 

School Secretary: The school secretary is often the first person you will encounter at your new school. He or she takes care of administrative duties, attendance, enrollment, immunization records, etc. At some schools, he or she is the person you will see to arrange to meet with the principal or the assistant principal. Large schools may have several secretaries, each one with different duties and some with crossover duties in the lunchroom and/or at recess. If you have an inquiry, be very specific about what you are asking and make a note of which secretary handles which duties. Be advised: school secretaries are the busiest at the beginning and end of the year and at the beginning and end of each day.

Classroom Teacher: You may get notice over the summer of your child’s teacher’s name and classroom, but you will not meet teachers until the first day of school at drop-off. This time of the morning is hectic for all and your teacher is tasked with lining the student up and getting them settled in. Some schools will allow students to be accompanied to the classroom for the first few days, but this is often not the case. Take time over the summer to prepare your child for this transition. Teachers use many of the books on this list to help kids on the first day of school.  Click here for suggestions. Be sure to find at least one that suits your child’s reading tastes.

Your child’s teacher(s) will be able to answer questions about academics and grades as well as behavioral, social, and emotional growth. Once enrolled, the teacher should be your first and primary point of contact. You should feel comfortable checking in regularly to help ensure your child’s success at school. Each school has it’s own way of handling communication (email, written notes, phone calls or a combination of all).

Parent Coordinator: Most schools have a parent coordinator who provides families with information about the school services and programs. He or she helps answer families’ questions and concerns and can arrange translations services. Some parent coordinators will send out weekly or monthly newsletters and coordinate workshops for families. If you are unable to resolve a concern with your child’s teacher, speak with your Parent Coordinator.

Assistant Principal: The assistant principal helps oversee the school programs, academics, student support, and discipline. Larger schools may have multiple assistant principals. If you are unable to resolve an issue with the Parent Coordinator, contact the Assistant Principal.

Principal: The school Principal leads and oversees all the school staff and students. If you have concerns that cannot be resolved through your child’s teachers, parent coordinator, or assistant principal, speak to the principal.

District or Borough Family Advocate: District Family Advocates support families with students in grades Pre-K-8 while Borough Advocates support families of high schoolers. If you have an issue you cannot solve at the school, contact your advocate. Find yours through this link.

Superintendents: District superintendents support families with students in Pre-K -8 and Borough Superintendents supports families with high schoolers. Find yours here.

School Social Worker: The school social worker helps parents, students, and school employees identify and address issues that interfere with students’ learning and work. He or she works with both general education and special education students to resolve social, emotional and behavioral issues.

School Psychologist: The role of school psychologist ranges from consultation to assessment to intervention. One of the primary responsibilities of the school psychologist is assessment. He or she assess students suspected of having a disability as part of the process of determining if the student needs services and what the services are to be. School psychologists are also trained to consult with teachers so as to help struggling students.

Guidance Counselor: Elementary, Middle, and High Schools will have at least one guidance counselor. Speak with the guidance counselor about your child’s academic schedule and classes as well as middle, high school and college and career planning.

Paraprofessional: The paraprofessional often referred to as a “para,” is the person who works alongside educators or therapists to provide students with IEPs and Section 504 Plans education services and accommodations that support learning. You might see paras working inside classrooms or assigned to just one student.

School Nurse: The school’s nurse responds to and cares for students’ medical needs at school. Speak with the nurse if your child requires medication or treatment during the school day.

Safety Agent: The school’s safety agent(s) is often the first adult you see upon entering the building. It is his or her job to ensure the safety of students and staff and to monitor and sign in visitors. They are members of the NYPD, but are not police officers and are not armed.

What’s What in NYC Public Schools?

*These events are not in order of sequence nor importance.

What our children are learning in school: While each school is unique, all schools will follow chosen programs through which they deliver the Common Core Standards to our children. In addition to a plethora of useful information like the DOE school calendar, the link below brings you to a guide that provides details about expectations for each grade. You can check the DOE website often or opt to sign up to receive email alerts so that you will have the most updated version of this guide as well as other important announcements.

What our children are not learning in school: While there is some variation, most NYC public elementary schools are not teaching handwriting, typing, foreign languages or computer skills. If learning these skills are important to your family, you may want to research your school in advance to see what “specials” your school offers and determine where you may want to supplement at home or outsource to a tutoring company.

Parent Teacher Conferences: Conferences are held between two and four times a year. These meetings give you a chance to sit down with your child’s teachers and ask questions about how he or she is doing at school. It is critical you attend and if you are unable to meet at the pre-determined time, schedule the meeting for another time. Teachers are mandated to have about 40 minutes each week to be available to meet with parents. Write down your questions ahead of time as most conferences are timed. Be sure to meet with ALL of your child’s teachers so as to have a complete picture of how he/she is doing in school and how he/she spends her day. It is important to support your child in ALL subjects, including physical education and the arts.

This DOE guide can be useful to help you prepare.

Supplies: The DOE has a limited budget. In most cases, the DOE provides a school with a building, all the administration, staff and teachers. The parent body compensates for discrepancies in what is provided and what is needed. Mostly, monies are collected through fundraisers throughout the year. As for classroom supplies, your school will either post a list on the school website during the summer, you will be given a list on the first day of school, or your school will ask for a contribution toward bulk purchasing. If your school distributes supply lists, you may want to purchase supplies over the summer, when you can find items on sale and avoid the back-to-school rush.

Fire Drills, Lock-Downs, Evacuations and Shelter-Ins: Directly from the DOE Website:

A vital component of emergency readiness within the DOE is the School Safety Plan (SSP). As part of the Safety Plan, schools/campuses must identify individual staff members to become BRT members.  In campus settings, each school must have one representative on the BRT.  The BRT members are hand selected by the Principal(s) to manage all school-related emergencies until the first responders arrive.  In addition, all schools implement General Response Protocols (GRP), which outlines the initial actions to be taken if an incident results in an Evacuation, Shelter-In, or a Lockdown. These actions are based on the use of common language to initiate the measures all school communities will take in a variety of incidents.

All staff, and students receive training in the GRP and drills are conducted at various times throughout the school year. Lessons have been designed for different grade levels so that the information is delivered to students without causing unnecessary alarm.

Information on the GRP should be sent home to parents help guide conversations with their children about emergency readiness in schools. Click here for a summary of the General Response Protocol for staff and students.

Summer Checklist for Parents

  • Purchase books about transitioning to Pre-K or Kindergarten.
  • Make a note of your school’s schedule.
  • Become familiar with your school’s website.
  • Make sure your enrollment is complete.
  • Create a contact list of all the major players at your school and in your district.
  • Print and browse all of the DOE guides.
  • Print the School Calendar and sync it with your family calendar. Working parents beware: there are many ½ days and holidays for which you will need to make childcare arrangements.
  • Be prepared before school starts: create a schedule and practice your commute to school. Read Evolved Education’s Back to School Seven Part Back to School Blog Series.

First Week of School

  • While most schools will email communication, paper copies are still the norm. Be prepared for an enormous amount of paperwork to come home through your child’s backpack during the first two weeks of school.
  • Your individual school’s calendar will also come home during the first week of school with important dates for you to sync with your family calendar.
  • Create a system for papers to come in and go out. As children are usually expected to transport papers through their backpacks and then submit them to their teachers, you can help your child with this important skill by teaching him or her to unpack his or her backpack at home and where to place important papers.

Do You More Questions? Feel free to email me, Gina Rotundo, at gina@evolveded.com.  Happy Transitioning!

 

 

Key Pieces of Advice from Parents who have been There

Parenting Standardized Tests: A Series for Parents of School-aged Children

Key Pieces of Advice from Parents who have been There

by Mary E. Miele and Gina Rotundo, from the The Evolved Education Company

 

Here are a collection of tips, strategies, and best practices from parents who have gone through the process at least once.

  • Rule # 1 – Do not let them see you sweat. Your child will feel your anxiety and internalize it and this will not help you or your child.
  • Learn all you can about the tests. Learn what the formats are, the time spent on each section and how the test is graded.
  • Discuss your child’s abilities and challenges at the first parent-teacher conference and translate these into test-taking skills.
  • Express to your child she needs to do her best and not compare herself to her peers. You can opt to not tell her what scores she earned. Just let her know she did well.
  • Do not pressure your child; she will pressure herself and will feel the pressure from her peers and teachers.
  • Remember, state tests are only one of the many ways to measure what your child is learning and able to do.
  • Look for signs of test anxiety. Ask your teacher how your child does on in-class tests. Does she finish on time? Does she know how to pace herself? Does she make careless errors?
  • Give your child a practice test at home to see how she handles the different formats so you can work on strengthening her weaknesses.
  • Make sure your child reads a variety of genres and reads for at least 30 minutes every night as even the math test involves a lot of reading. Doing this will expose your child to a variety of texts and vocabulary; but, most importantly, this will help build stamina.
  • Create a quiet study space for your child and make sure she can sit and stay on task the full time of your child’s test. Do not expect this to happen immediately; you will have to work up to the full time. For children who have a 504 granting extended time, find out how long your child will sit for.
  • Do fun activities throughout the year that are timed so your child will learn a sense of pacing and time management.
  • Use your child’s 3rd grade experience to learn how she handles test taking and whether she will need a 504 Plan, tutoring, or both.
  • Talk about the tests with your child: why they have to take tests and what they are used for. Normalizing test taking will help alleviate stress.
  • Remind your child that the test measures certain things, but does not measure intelligence.
  • Remind your child that one test is just that, one test. Some tests will go very well and others will not. Take it one test at a time and maintain a healthy perspective.

 

Key Elements of Test Preparation: A Primer for Students

Parenting Standardized Tests: A Series for Parents of School-aged Children

Key Elements of Test Preparation: A Primer for Students

by Mary E. Miele and Gina Rotundo, from the The Evolved Education Company

Build Test-Taking Skills

Maintain a list of concepts and skills you should know. Sort these skills into categories of what you know well, what you want to review and what you really need to learn.

Try to maintain a fifteen-minute daily review. Steadily build from the skills you already know and do not try to learn everything at once. Review old concepts while you learn new skills, so you are accumulating knowledge while refreshing basics. Look at resources such as education.com or The Evolved Education Company to curate extra practice.

Maintain a daily reading of fiction and non-fiction for at least 40 minutes per day. Practice reading to yourself and aloud to an adult. Practice re-telling the story and expressing your thoughts and opinions about what is happening.

Do Test Preparation at Home

Remember: Taking a standardized test differs from taking regular school tests. Standardized tests are strictly timed and have specific instructions to follow.

Designating a particular amount of time for an activity or review lesson to be completed can help you get in the mindset of finishing work with time restraints. The use of your own timer or stopwatch can help you be conscious of time, while also providing a fun way to do quick practices of certain skills. A time timer, shown below can be purchased from Amazon.com for $22.00 and is an excellent way to teach students to be aware of time. Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 9.42.27 PM

Take as many practice tests as possible using tests from previous years. Ask an adult to create a quiet space for you to take a full 70-minute test.

Test-Taking Tips

Before the test, expose yourself to answering a variety of question types for both ELA and Math: fill-in-the-blank, multiple-choice, short-answer and extended response.

Become familiar with test terminology. For example, you should know the difference between things like synonyms and antonyms, main ideas and details, and greater than and less than.

Make a list of clue words and their corresponding operations. Within the questions, clues can be found, such as in the question: How many blocks are there altogether? You should understand that the word “altogether” indicates addition as the operation needed to answer the question sufficiently.

Pay close attention to directions, and note, highlight or underline any words that may assist you in answering the questions.

In the reading comprehension section of the test, which can be very lengthy, you should start by previewing the questions prior to reading the assigned passage. This helps you know what you are looking for when you read the text.

In multiple-choice questions, you should first rule out the wrong answers then look for the correct answer.

Also, make sure you answer all of the questions. You loose more credit for unanswered questions than for wrong answers.

Pay attention to time and time management. Then, throughout the year and just for fun, consider doing timed activities at home with your family.

On the Week of the Test

This is the time to officially end test-preparation and take time to relax.

On the night before: take a nice warm bath, or shower and make time for your favorite relaxing activities. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep as a good rest can increase your score.

On test day: have a good breakfast because nutrients help to stimulate the brain. Don’t forget last minute supplies, such as No. 2 pencils, ruler, protractor, calculator if needed and a watch.

Important Facts to Remember

It is normal to feel anxiety before a test. Learn how to use breathing exercise to relax.

This is only a test and does not measure your intelligence, nor determine your future.

Just do your best!

Report Card Review

Ah the report cards are here!  Lots of great information about how our children are performing in school–What should we do with report cards and how do we review them with out children? 

First, take the report card and have a good read. Allow your partner to do the same.  Notice what your child is doing exceptionally well. Maybe you want to write that down.  Then, take note of the areas that are going fairly well; usually these are the items in the B range or Satisfactory.  Lastly, take note of anything that is emerging or in the C or below range.  I suggest writing all of this down.

Next, talk to your partner about the report card. Swap notes-how did you perceive your child’s strengths, areas of weakness?  What did you notice that was positive or negative?  Get on the same page about what you feel you should work on and what you will communicate to your child.

Then, sit down in a quiet place and talk with your child. Here are some things to think about when you talk to your child:

1) Positive feedback should absolutely be given. Bs are still grades to be proud of as are satisfactory marks.  Students should be praised for class participation marks and/or getting homework in on time.  Every action that resulted in a high mark or a praiseworthy comment should be noticed.  It is always ok to write down these items as you discuss them with your child.

2) Talk to your child about the purpose of feedback. Tell him or her about how at work you may get a review and be told about some aspects of your job that are positive and some that you need to improve upon.  If you have a concrete example of this process, share it.

3) Then, get into the tougher stuff; Write it down along with actionable strategies to overcome areas of weakness or underperformance. 

  • Preface the discussion about the areas of weakness with a caring opening and get right to it; talk to your child about how you notice there are some areas that his/her teacher would like to improve.  Tell the student what these comments are (I really am against guessing games here–I have seen some parents ask their child what they think they have done badly on in school…and usually this opening just serves to make the student feel badly–its better to just tell them what the teacher has said-be straightforward).
  • Then, ask the student to write these areas down and together come up with some strategies (action items) for how to move forward with a better plan.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to write these down!  If you can post them somewhere out of the eyes of friends who come over (to avoid embarrassment), that is helpful too.

Here are some examples of teacher’s comments and then strategies or action items to help improve:

Teacher’s comment: Sarah needs to improve her editing when she writes.

Strategy:  Let’s come up with an editing checklist and use it every time you write.  When you get feedback from your teacher after you write, you can add that to the editing checklist along the way.

Teacher comment: Rafael needs to improve his class participation in science.

Strategy: Let’s review what you are learning in science each Sunday and come up with 3 questions or comments that you could share in class. Also, you could always think about ways to respond to the teacher while you are in class by contributing what you know about the lesson or asking a relevant question–let’s talk about how you tried this each Sunday too!

Teacher comment: Tara needs to improve her test grades in French.

Strategy: Let’s be sure that you not only complete homework, but that you also study each night. We can use Sundays to come up with a weekly study plan for you and I can help you to study for each test or your tutor can too!

By helping your child to actively address each area of challenge, your child will feel more confident AND he or she will learn an important life skill–which is to address feedback in a proactive nature.

4) After the report card conversation, give your child a big hug and let them know that you are proud of him or her for all of the work that he/she is doing in school.  Our children have big jobs as students with many different activities and subjects to master–let them know that education is important and that there will always be work to do, as a great life is one full of learning!

 

 

 

Preparedness

You know the feeling—

Not Prepared

 

You enter math class, 2nd period on a Thursday morning in January and the teacher walks in.  She is carrying a large set of photocopies, places them on the front table and swings around to face the class.

UGH!

You swallow hard and your stomach drops.  A Quiz!?! Your heart is racing, you flip open your notes and read—AND FAST!  Hopefully something about quadrilaterals will stick before you get that photocopy.

The paper is set in front of you, and you turn white.  You really do know very little –except a few answers to the questions that are pretty obvious.  The feeling is just awful.  It is defeating and a huge blow to your confidence.

Here at EEC we pride ourselves on preparing students for success–definitely avoiding pale faces and sinking stomachs!  We had a few students taking big exams just before Winter break, and one of the greatest feelings came when one of our educators received a text message from a student just after taking a test saying, “I think I did great, I may have gotten one wrong, but I felt really prepared!”

There really is nothing like the feeling that comes along with being prepared.  It builds confidence, it feels good and it is satisfying.  It is also hard work!  A student has to understand the material, organize it, practice it, study it and be motivated to work through the entire process.

Being Prepared is Awesome

As we begin a new year, we look forward to helping more students to become prepared for what they encounter–whether it be a test, quiz, paper or simply being able to participate in a class discussion, every student deserves to have the feeling that goes along with being well prepared!

 

Happy Learning from EEC!

Hello Families!

It’s time to start thinking about December down time!!   Enjoy the time away from the rigors and routines of academic life with a good book or new iPad or iPhone application–ideas for K-12 students await you below.

Special thanks to our amazing English teacher, Monica, and to Beth, our technology teacher, as well as great sites such as Scholastic and GoodReads for helping us to curate this list of books and applications!

Happy Holidays and ENJOY!

Kindergarten

Lost and Found
Lost and Found, By Oliver Jeffers
A young boy finds a lost penguin on his stoop and embarks on a journey to help the penguin find its way home. But after a big trip in a tiny rowboat – all the way to the South Pole – the boy realizes that the penguin was never lost; he was just lonely! This tale of an unlikely friendship, with watercolor illustrations that are both lush and simple, is off-the-charts adorable.
Alphabet Adventure
Alphabet Adventure, By Audrey Wood

This alphabet book brings to life the “little letters” as they prepare to teach a child the a-b-c’s. On the way to school, the dot for lower case i disappears. Throughout the story, the author cleverly weaves information about the alphabet letters — their order, their correct positions and their sounds. The lively illustrations call attention to both upper- and lowercase letters. 

Grumpy Bird
Grumpy Bird, By Jeremy Tankard
Everyone knows what it feels like to wake up on the wrong side of the bed. This adorable picture book follows a grumpy blue bird as he uses a few tools — talking, exercising and playing with friends — to overcome his bad mood.

 
A Chair for My Mother
A Chair for My Mother, By Vera B. Williams

After their home is destroyed by a fire, Rosa, her mother and grandmother save their coins to buy a really comfortable chair for all to enjoy. “A superbly conceived picture book expressing the joyful spirit of a loving family.”–Horn Book.

Book! Book! Book!
Book! Book! Book!, By Deborah Bruss
When the children go back to school the animals on the farm have nothing to do. So, they decide to go to the library. (That’s where all the happy people are coming from!) The only problem is getting the librarian to understand what they want. One by one they take their turns asking: first, the horse, then the duck, and the pig. But only the hen gets through — and what does she say?
Apps:
Endless Alphabet By Originator Inc.
Endless Alphabet
By Originator Inc.
Grades 1-2
I Want My Hat Back
I Want My Hat Back, By Jon Klassen
A picture-book delight by a rising talent tells a cumulative tale with a mischievous twist.  The bear’s hat is gone, and he wants it back. Patiently and politely, he asks the animals he comes across, one by one, whether they have seen it. Each animal says no, some more elaborately than others. But just as the bear begins to despond, a deer comes by and asks a simple question that sparks the bear’s memory and renews his search with a vengeance. Told completely in dialogue, this delicious take on the classic repetitive tale plays out in sly illustrations laced with visual humor— and winks at the reader with a wry irreverence that will have kids of all ages thrilled to be in on the joke.
Subway
Subway, By Christoph Niemann
Simple, rhyming text follows two boys and their father as they spend a rainy day riding the various lines of the New York City subway system.
My Father's Dragon
My Father’s Dragon, By Ruth Stiles Gannett
Elmer Elevator (narrator’s father as a boy) runs away with an old alley cat to rescue a flying baby dragon being exploited on a faraway island. With the help of two dozen pink lollipops, rubber bands, chewing gum, and a fine-toothed comb, Elmer disarms the fiercest of beasts on Wild Island.
Apps
Rosetta Stone For Kids
Rosetta Stone For Kids
Poems By Heart from Penguin Classics By Penguin Group USA
Poems By Heart from Penguin Classics
By Penguin Group USA
Grades 3-4
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, By Kate DiCamillo
It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry—and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart. From #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo comes a laugh-out-loud story filled with eccentric, endearing characters and featuring an exciting new format—a novel interspersed with comic-style graphic sequences and full-page illustrations, all rendered in black-and-white by up-and-coming artist K. G. Campbell.
The Year of Billy Miller
The Year of Billy Miller, By Kevin Henkes
Award-winning, nationally bestselling author Kevin Henkes introduces second-grader Billy Miller in this fast-paced and funny story about friendship, sibling rivalry, and elementary school. The Year of Billy Millerwas named a 2014 Newbery Honor book by the American Library Association. The Year of Billy Miller includes black-and-white art by Kevin Henkes and is perfect for fans of the Ramona books; Frindle, by Andrew Clements; and the Clementine series.

When Billy Miller has a mishap at the statue of the Jolly Green Giant at the end of summer vacation, he ends up with a big lump on his head. What a way to start second grade, with a lump on your head! As the year goes by, though, Billy figures out how to navigate elementary school, how to appreciate his little sister, and how to be a more grown up and responsible member of the family and a help to his busy working mom and stay-at-home dad. Newbery Honor author and Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes delivers a short, satisfying, laugh-out-loud-funny school and family story that features a diorama homework assignment, a school poetry slam, cancelled sleepovers, and epic sibling temper tantrums. This is a perfect short novel for the early elementary grades.
The One and Only Ivan
The One and Only Ivan, By Katherine Applegate
Based on a true story, book tells of Ivan, a captive gorilla who uses art to bridge the gap between his cage and the outside world.  Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.
Family Under the Bridge
The Family Under The Bridge, By Natalie Savage Carlson
Armand, an old hobo, loves his solitary and carefree life under a bridge in Paris. Everything he owns can be pushed around in an old baby buggy. All the clothing he owns is on his back. He has no family, and better yet, no children, whom he says, are like starlings: the world is better off without them.One day, however, Armand’s simple life becomes complicated when he discovers a family under his bridge, complete with a working mother and, ugh, three children. Soon after, Armand decides to find another bridge among the many bridges in Paris, but the children want him to stay. As Christmas nears, Armand becomes not only a friend to children, but someone who is determined to make their holiday wishes come true. Tired of their life under the bridge, the children want only a real home, and Armand, whose heart has been softened by his love for his new “family,” comes up with a plan.
Apps:
4th Grade Splash Math Worksheets to learn decimal numbers, multiplication, division & fractions for kids By StudyPad, Inc.
4th Grade Splash Math Worksheets to learn decimal numbers, multiplication, division & fractions for kids
By StudyPad, Inc.
Grade 5-6
When You Reach Me
When You Reach Me, By Rebecca Stead
Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever.
By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.
But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper:
I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.
I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.
The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.
Wonder
Wonder, By R.J. Palacio
I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.
Chomp (B&N Exclusive Edition)
Chomp, By Carl Hiaasen
Filled with his trademark quirky characters and offbeat humor, this novel by best-selling author Carl Hiaasen combines wild animals, reality TV, and hilarious high jinks!Wahoo’s dad, Mickey, is an animal wrangler, and the backyard of their Everglades home is crawling with gators, snakes, monkeys, and other wild creatures. Unfortunately, Mickey hasn’t been able to work since he was injured in a freak accident (a dead iguana fell on his head), and money has been a little tight. So, despite his injuries, Mickey decides to take a job with a reality TV show called Expedition Survival, but he’s going to need Wahoo’s help. Dealing with deadly animals like a 12-foot-long alligator is hard enough. Throw in an out-of-control host and a crazed gunman, and Wahoo’s not sure anyone will survive this survival show!
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, By E.L. Konigsburg
When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere, she wants to run to somewhere — to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing her younger brother Jamie has money and thus can help her with a serious cash-flow problem, she invites him along.
Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie find themselves caught up in the mystery of an angel statue that the museum purchased at auction for a bargain price of $225. The statue is possibly an early work of the Renaissance master, Michelangelo, and therefore worth millions. Is it? Or isn’t it?
Claudia is determined to find out. Her quest leads her to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the remarkable old woman who sold the statue, and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself.
One Crazy Summer
One Crazy Summer, Rita Williams-Garcia

Set during one of the most tumultuous years in recent American history, One Crazy Summer is the heartbreaking, funny tale of three girls who travel to Oakland, California, in 1968 in search of the mother who abandoned them. It’s an unforgettable story told by a distinguished author of books for children and teens, Rita Williams-Garcia.

Apps:

Oh No Fractions!- Middle School By Curious Hat
Oh No Fractions!- Middle School
By Curious Hat
5 Dice: Order of Operations Game By Justin Holladay
5 Dice: Order of Operations Game
By Justin Holladay

 

Grades 7-8

One Came Home
One Came Home, Amy Timberlake

In the town of Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871, Georgie Burkhardt is known for two things: her uncanny aim with a rifle and her habit of speaking her mind plainly. But when Georgie blurts out something she shouldn’t, her older sister Agatha flees, running off with a pack of “pigeoners” trailing the passenger pigeon migration. And when the sheriff returns to town with an unidentifiable body—wearing Agatha’s blue-green ball gown—everyone assumes the worst. Except Georgie. Refusing to believe the facts that are laid down (and coffined) before her, Georgie sets out on a journey to find her sister. She will track every last clue and shred of evidence to bring Agatha home. Yet even with resolute determination and her trusty Springfield single-shot, Georgie is not prepared for what she faces on the western frontier.

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life
Jeremy Fink and The Meaning of Life, By Wendy Mass

In one month Jeremy Fink will turn thirteen. But does he have what it takes to be a teenager? He collects mutant candy, he won’t venture more than four blocks from his apartment if he can help it, and he “definitely “doesn’t like surprises. On the other hand, his best friend, Lizzy, isn’t afraid of anything, even if that might get her into trouble now and then.

Jeremy’s summer takes an unexpected turn when a mysterious wooden box arrives in the mail. According to the writing on the box, it holds the meaning of life! Jeremy is supposed to open it on his thirteenth birthday. The problem is, the keys are missing, and the box is made so that only the keys will open it without destroying what’s inside. Jeremy and Lizzy set off to find the keys, but when one of their efforts goes very wrong, Jeremy starts to lose hope that he’ll ever be able to open the box. But he soon discovers that when you’re meeting people named Oswald Oswald and using a private limo to deliver unusual objects to strangers all over the city, there might be other ways of finding out the meaning of life. 

Lively characters, surprising twists, and thought-provoking ideas make Wendy Mass’s latest novel an unforgettable read.

Three Times Lucky
Three Times Lucky, By Sheila Turnage

Ever since she washed ashore as a baby during a hurricane, Mo LoBeau has made her home in Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, with the Colonel, a café owner with a forgotten past of his own, and Miss Lana, the café’s glamorous hostess. Mo hopes to someday find her “upstream mother,” but until then, she’s happy helping the Colonel and Lana run the Tupelo Café, and going on adventures with her best friend, Dale.

Then a lawman comes to Tupelo Landing to investigate a murder. When it seems like Mo’s loved ones might be implicated in the crime, she and Dale decide to use their own detective skills to solve the case. Soon the friends are investigating another murder, a long-ago bank robbery, a kidnapping, and the mystery of the night that Mo washed up on shore.

Can the Desperado Detectives uncover the truth, before someone else gets hurt? Find out in this wonderful and engaging novel that’s full of small-town heart.

Apps:

Cell and Cell Structure-A fantastic middle-school biology app By Emantras Inc
Cell and Cell Structure-A fantastic middle-school biology app
By Emantras Inc

Grade 9

Eleanor & Park
Eleanor & Park, By Rainbow Rowell
Two misfits.  One extraordinary love.
Eleanor
… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
Speak
Speak, By Laurie Halse Anderson
“Speak up for yourself—we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication. In Laurie Halse Anderson’s powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.
Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weapon
Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon, By Steve Sheikin

 

  • A gripping narrative of the race between countries, spies, and scientists to create the first atomic bomb.

    In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a Uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific race that spanned 3 continents. In Great Britain and the United States, Soviet spies worked their way into the scientific community; in Norway, a commando force slipped behind enemy lines to attack German heavy-water manufacturing; and deep in the desert, one brilliant group of scientists was hidden away at Los Alamos. This is the story of the plotting, risk-taking, deceit, and genius that created the world’s most formidable weapon. This is the story of the atomic bomb.

    The Fault in Our Stars
    The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
    Sixteen-year-old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient, has accepted her terminal diagnosis, until a chance meeting with a boy at cancer support group forces her to reexamine her perspective on love, loss, and life.  Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.
  • Apps:
  • DragonBox Algebra 12+ - The award-winning math learning game 12+ By WeWantToKnow AS
    DragonBox Algebra 12+ – The award-winning math learning game 12+
    By WeWantToKnow AS
  • Poems By Heart from Penguin Classics By Penguin Group USA
    Poems By Heart from Penguin Classics
    By Penguin Group USA
  • Grade 10-12

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, By Rebecca Skloot
Hooked by Nir Eyal
Hooked by Nir Eyal
The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore
The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore
  •  A fascinating exploration of the origins of Wonder Woman and the secretive life of her creator, William Moulton Marston, whose interest in the early women’s movement, suffragists, and feminists found voice in his female superhero.  

 

Sister's Grave by Robert Dugoni
Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni

Tracy Crosswhite has spent twenty years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House—a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder—is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers.

When Sarah’s remains are finally discovered near their hometown in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington State, Tracy is determined to get the answers she’s been seeking. As she searches for the real killer, she unearths dark, long-kept secrets that will forever change her relationship to her past—and open the door to deadly danger.

 

Compulsion by Martina Boone
Compulsion by Martina Boone

Fantasy, romance, and southern Gothic suspense mingle in this debut novel for teens, the first in a trilogy, about a young girl, Barrie, trying to escape the ancient curse that has blighted her family. Karen Hallam says, “I didn’t want to put this book down…. There’s so much sadness, but there’s hope and there’s family and feuds all rolled into a new world for Barrie Watson…. One of my favorite scenes has to do with fire and ghosts and an ancient curse. It’s a stunning visual scene. I still see it. It’s breathtaking.”