Category Archives: Middle School

Study Strategies

Study Strategies

By Mary Miele

To navigate independent learning and studying, students must have a myriad of strategies so that they can move through the process of learning. Within this process, students must engage with material in multiple ways, within a structure that works for their learning style as well as over time. The goal is for them to gain knowledge, comprehend, apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate. You can see this process in Bloom’s Taxonomy (see picture below).

I met with a middle school student last week who showed me material from her six subjects. She takes English, math, history, science, Latin and Spanish. Most of her classes move at a rapid pace and her teacher does not cover some of what she needs to learn in the classroom setting. Due to the rigor of the curriculum and its fast pace, it is up to her to have organization and study skills so that she can properly digest material once she leaves the classroom.

This student’s experience is consistent with what I see happening to students we work with across New York City. There is an expectation that students take home the work they are exposed to in the classroom, then work with it until they truly master it at the highest possible level.

For a myriad of reasons, it is rare for these kinds of study skills and strategies to be taught explicitly to students in the middle school. Thus, many students are feeling stressed and unsuccessful within the studying continuum. They come home and complete homework, but do not have an approach to master the material they are supposed to learn.

Thus, those of us who support school are tasked with finding ways to support our students through the study process. The following are a few of my favorite study strategies that you can pass along to your student or child today:

Work Within the Evolved Education Study Process

Teach your students to work within a studying continuum.

  1. Gather – collect the information you need to learn
  2. Organize – categorize and simplify what you need to know
  3. Study – engage actively with your material (see below for some ideas)
  4. Self-Test – test yourself to see what you have learned – use Bloom’s taxonomy to help you find some action words to help you (e.g. describe, analyze, compare, criticize ..). Also, know the format of the test and create a practice test to take using that format.
  5. Repeat steps 3-4
  6. Create a one-pager with info you need to study – create a one-pager with the information that is not at 100% just before the test date to review and copy over.

Take Your Time

Study over time. Most students we start working with only work through the first step of the Evolved Education Study Process. They gather up what they need to know, read over it and head into the exam. The problem with this is that they have missed key tasks to ensure they are properly prepared. Anxiety is often formed because these students arrive at the test without being fully prepared. It’s not a great feeling to be unprepared.

When we talk with students about studying, they often tell us they are spending HOURS of time studying. This is often true! However, they are not using that time properly, which is why they are not seeing results.

The key to effective studying is to work through the Evolved Education Study Process routinely well before the test date. In fact, students should be Gathering Information WHILE they are learning and taking classes. They should be Organizing Information EACH weekend. They should begin the studying process a few days before the assessment.

Smart Study Guide Prep

The key to effective studying is to be innovative with how you organize the information you have to learn. I just did a Facebook Live segment on study strategies and you can see me explain a few of these approaches there, too.

Create a two or three column study guide.

The best part about these study guides, which are adapted from the Cornell Notetaking System is that you can take notes as you are learning and then turn those notes into a study guide and experience right away! This can be done on a computer too by typing in notes and then adding a column to the left and/or right of your notes.

Let’s say your child is tasked with learning the information on this page:

Text taken from Eye Wonder Science

Typically, a child will read and take some notes on the important information. To be efficient, just leave a little room on the left-hand side (you can fold the paper to make the line, or add a column in a word or google doc).

 

Students can record notes on the right side of the page and add in questions afterward to aid in studying

The student takes notes and then goes back afterward to write in questions that they will need to be able to answer about the notes. Again, go back to Bloom’s taxonomy and create questions that not only ask the student to comprehend the information, but also analyze it, evaluate it, combine it, etc.

For math, students can divide the page into three columns. The direction for the problem goes on the left. The actual problem goes in the middle and the solution is written on far right side of the page. This approach allows a student to link the directions to the problem and its solution. Often, students are learning language in conjunction with mathematical concepts, so this kind of organization allows students to link the language presented in the directions with the mathematical concepts and skills they are learning.

To study math, students should write directions on the left, problem in the middle, and solution to the right. By folding the page, students can practice following directions and solving problems.

Aside from the column notes, visual vocabulary is becoming more and more helpful for students. Pictures provide students with context for the new language. In addition, see below how we use color to highlight word roots. Email me if you’d like to get more sheets of visual vocabulary.

Students can assign pictures to words they are learning and identify root words within words by using color-coding.

In closing, studying is a process, and part of that process is to review your test taking approaches and feedback from the assessment itself. Please join me on Sunday 12/17 on Facebook Live as I talk about the Aftermath of Testing. I’ll present information about how to rebound from a quiz you could have done better on and how to use feedback to inform your studying process.

In the meantime, if you have specific questions about what you can do to help your child with study skills, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at mary@evolveded.com.

 

 

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!

2017-2018 SHSAT

 There is a new SHSAT 

As you may have heard, the NYC Department of Education has been planning some changes in the SHSAT (Specialized High Schools Admission Test), which some 30,000 NYC eighth graders take every fall in hopes of admission to one of the city’s eight specialized high schools, including Stuyvesant High School and Bronx High School of Science.

The key takeaways are these:
  • No more scrambled paragraphs or logical reasoning
  • Grammar, syntax and editing questions will replace the removed content on the verbal side of the test
  • The test will be longer
  • The test will include “experimental” questions that are not counted toward scores
  • The math test will include some student-produced “grid-in” questions
  • 4 answer choices instead of 5

These changes are being implemented in response to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s desire to increase the enrollment in specialized high schools of historically underrepresented demographic groups. The number of African-American and Latino students at the schools has been falling in recent years, a development that has generated much public criticism. Whether these changes will move the needle on diversity is an open question that remains to be answered. In terms of test prep, it is possible that the new content on the test will necessitate more tutoring and teaching.

We have attached a DOE memo summarizing the changes to the test as of Fall 2017. These include:

  • Standard testing time is increasing from 150 minutes to 180 minutes.
  • The verbal section is being renamed the English Language Arts (ELA) section.
  • The ELA section will no longer include scrambled paragraphs and logical reasoning questions.
  • The ELA section will now include questions that address revising/editing skills, in addition to continuing to have reading comprehension passages and questions; all ELA questions will be multiple choice questions.
  • The math section will now include five “grid-in” questions, in which students must solve a computational question and provide the correct numerical answer, rather than selecting the answer from various multiple choice options; the math section will also continue to have multiple choice word problems and computational questions.
  • All multiple choice questions will now have 4 answer choices instead of the previous design with 5 answer choices.
  • Each section (ELA and math) will include 57 items: 47 items in each section will be scored, with each question worth 1 raw score point, and the remaining 10 items in each section will be field test items that are not used in determining a student’s score. Scoring and the process for using test results to determine admission to the Specialized High Schools is not changing. See further below for details.

Click here to access the DOE site where you can find information about the SHSAT.

Reprinted from our friends at Noodle Pros

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!

 

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.

NYC High School Admissions

HIGH SCHOOL ADMISSIONS

Our Talk with NYC Admissions Solutions

By: Mary E. Miele, founder The Evolved Education Company

It’s that time of year again — NYC High School Admissions time and on Saturday, September 17th we join Maurice Frumkin from NYC Admissions Solutions to give information to families about the High School Admissions Process at Wagner Middle School.

Here are a few key resources for every family to have on hand during the high school process.

Specialized High School Handbook

Specialized High School News and Dates for Testing and Auditions

Citywide High School Directory

Manhattan High School Directory

Mock Testing is a fantastic way to prepare for a standardized test. EEC offers all tests, even with accommodations to students this fall. We hold them at Marymount Manhattan College on Saturday mornings in the fall. Email Mary at mary@evolveded.com to book your test. Mock testing costs $150/sitting and includes the test and a graded report within 48 hours of test.

Saturday 9/17 9:00-1:00pm
Saturday 9/24 9:00-1:00pm
Saturday 10/1 9:00-1:00pm
Saturday 10/8 9:00-1:00pm
Saturday 10/15 9:00-1:00pm
Saturday 10/22 9:00-1:00pm
Saturday 10/29 9:00-1:00pm
Saturday 11/5 9:00-1:00pm
Saturday 11/12 9:00-1:00pm
Saturday 11/19 9:00-1:00pm
Saturday 12/3 9:00-1:00pm
Screened High Schools rank students based on certain criteria including final report card grades, ELA and math standardized test scores, and attendance and punctuality from the prior school year. They may also require an interview, essay, on-site exam, or demonstrated interest in the school (such as attendance at an Open House or other school visit).
To prepare for essays, interviews and all-around excellence in school, call us for a free 15 minute consultation. You may also enjoy our tips as follows:
  • Have your child write practice essays on topics such as “What was your favorite book and why?” “What was  a challenging experience you have overcome and why?” Have someone other than the child’s parent edit and provide feedback on the essay.
  • Practice interviews authentically. Have someone your child does not know perform a mock interview with your child.
  • Prepare and organize your child’s audition and/or portfolio.
  • Be aware of the education standards your child needs to work towards. Work with whole child educators to help your child and your family to thrive within today’s education process.
  • Understand your child’s full academic profile using The Evolved Education Paradigm. Visit us here to learn more.
  • Use your child’s strengths to instill strong study strategies, planning and organization techniques, and academic goal setting into your child’s education experience in middle school. These practices best prepare your child for success in high school.

Above all, during the high school process it is important to remind your child of his or her strengths, talents and passions as well as the qualities you love about him or her. Change and competition are challenging positions for anyone, but especially teenagers. Help your child to thrive throughout the high school process by being organized, by having support, and by enjoying the privilege of having school choice in one of the most amazing cities to raise our young people.

 

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!

 

 

Test Preparation and Supporting School: Especially for Middle School Families

EEC’s Presentation for Middle School Families

By Mary Miele, Founder and Learning Specialist

At our presentation for parents of students in Middle School with NYC Admissions Solutions and Maurice Frumkin, information on three aspects of supporting school was given. First, parents can support their children through test preparation. Second, parents can learn productive ways to ensure their children thrive in their role as student during a crucial academic time. And lastly, parents can learn the timeline for next steps as students enter high school.

I. Three steps to support your child through test preparation.

  1. Learn about your child’s testing opportunities and the tests.

ISEE is the Independent School Entrance Examination. A student can take this exam only once during the admission cycle. The verbal reasoning section of the ISEE contains synonyms and sentence completion questions. The quantitative reasoning section of the ISEE contains quantitative comparisons.

Sub Test # of ?s Time
Verbal Reasoning 40 20
Quantitative Reasoning 37 35 min
Reading Comprehension 36 35 min
Mathematics Achievement 47 40 min
Essay one prompt 30 min
Total Time 2hrs 40min

SSAT is the Secondary School Admissions Test. A student can take this exam as many times as he or she prefers to during the admission cycle. The verbal reasoning section of the SSAT contains analogies.

Sub Test # of ?s Regular Time 1.5 Time
Verbal Reasoning 60 30 45
Quantitative Reasoning 50 60 90
Reading Comprehension 40 40 min 60
Experimental 16 15 min not provided
Essay one prompt 25 min 40 min
Total Time with break 3 hours, 5 min 4 hrs, 10 min

SHSAT is the Specialized High School Admissions Test. A student can take this test only once during the admissions cycle—typically in late October. SHSAT Class begins Saturday, April 2nd! Sign up by emailing info@evolveded.com.

Sub Test # of ?s Total Points Total Time
Scrambled Paragraphs 5 10
Logical Reasoning 10 10
Reading 30 30
Math 50 50
2 hrs 30 min

ELA is the English Language Arts Test.

Day One tests only reading. This part of the test will entail multiple-choice questions on a set # of literary and informational reading passages, which will vary in length depending on grade level.

Day Two is split equally between testing writing and testing reading. This part of the test will entail multiple-choice questions based on a passage and one extended response and 3 short-responses based on two passages.

Day Three tests writing. This part of the test will entail an extended response and short response questions on reading passages.

This test is untimed, but students should finish with enough stamina to perform well. Partial credit is given on short and extended responses. It is important that your child know the rubrics for grading.

For Grade Six and Seven ELA: Click here for 2016 Information on the ELA Test. See below for the rubrics for the short and extended responses.

ELA Grade Six Short Response Rubric

ELA Extended Response Rubric

NYS Math Test is the New York State Math Test.

Day One has multiple-choice questions.

Day Two has multiple-choice questions

Day Three has short-response questions and extended-response questions.

This test is untimed, but students should finish with enough stamina to perform well. Partial credit is given on short and extended responses.  It is important that your child know the rubrics for grading.

For Grade Six and Seven NYS Math Test: Click here for 2016 Information on the NYS Math Test. See below for the rubrics for the short and extended responses.

NYS Math Test Short Response Rubric

NYS Math Test Extended Response Rubric

CTP-4 is the Comprehensive Testing Program. It is a rigorous assessment for high achieving students in various content areas. Many private, independent and parochial schools use the CTP-4.

Verbal Reasoning

Quantitative Reasoning

Math Achievement

Reading Comprehension

Writing Concepts & Skills

Writing Mechanics

Listening Skills

2. Learn about what creates successful test preparation, generally speaking.

Strong Plan that accounts for a child using whole child paradigm.

Commitment and Consistency

Tutoring or classes that not only instruct, but also provides opportunities for plenty of practice (homework), practice tests, as well as opportunities to be in the driver’s seat with regard to mastery of skills, concepts and strategies.

Attention to the Social-Emotional-Academic Quotient.

3.  Create a test preparation plan.

Your child’s …

Academic History

Learning Style

School Environment

Family Environment, Values, Goals

Social-Emotional Connection or SEAQ (Social-Emotional-Academic Quotient)

Your budget …

Your calendar …

Schedule a Test Preparation Consultation with EEC and take the guesswork out of the planning work! Email us today at info@evolveded.com or call 917-388-3862.

II. Four Ways Parents can Support School so Students Thrive.

1. Be Informed — Remember the Whole Child Paradigm?

Keep track of your child’s academic history. Learn about your child’s learning style. Understand your child’s school environment—both what works for your child and what does not. Be aware of your family’s environment, values and goals. Determine your child’s social-emotional-academic quotient.

2. Teach and Require Skills for the Job — Classwork, Homework, Studying, Executive Functioning

Know what skills your child needs to have to thrive within classwork, homework, studying and executive functioning.

In the classroom, the student needs to understand the way information is being communicated. What is the syllabus? What is the teaching style? How should the student participate?

For homework, the student needs to have a system for knowing what needs to be completed, for taking the classroom experience and applying it to homework, calendaring tasks into a planner, and having a system for handing in assignments.

For studying, the student needs to have a system for on-going studying, an effective way to acquire information and skills (often avoiding phone or Internet time or social media) which should involve active studying, a way to use weekend time for review.

For executive functioning, the student should be aware of his or her strengths in the eight main functions: Planning, Organization, Self-Monitoring, Working Memory, Initiation, Emotional Control, Shift, Inhibition/Impulsivity and employ strategies to compensate for areas of weakness.

Schedule an Education Consulting Session with EEC to help you and your child to perfect these important skills using our whole child paradigm. Email us at info@evolveded.com or call 917-388-3862.

3. Communicate & Problem-Solve

Students and families need a way to communicate on a weekly basis. The communication should include a review of school feedback, a look ahead at upcoming tests/projects, a review of the family calendar, and include contracts, goals with specific attention to actions and consequences.

4. Outsource

Families should outsource support by first going to classroom teachers, guidance counselors, or principals at the school. Parents should stay informed about curriculum, how their child is performing in school and the landscape of education going forward. Parents should find education consulting, classes and tutoring which supports the student so he or she can THRIVE in his or her role as a student.

III. Looking Ahead to High School

Parents can learn about the high school timeline to ensure their child is afforded every opportunity to THRIVE within the high school experience and college search and admissions process.

Email our college counselor, Molly Lieberman with specific questions about the high school process at college@evolveded.com!

Freshman year

Take rigorous courses that ensure best grades possible (do all four years).

Take part in extra-curricular activities of interest (do all four years).

Sign up for a College Board account, apply for extra time for standardized tests, if needed.

Sophomore year

Take PSAT in fall for a baseline grade.

Take an SAT II test in the spring.

Visit some colleges in spring or summer of Sophomore year.

Explore career interests & get a job or internship.

Junior year

Take PSAT in fall.

Prepare for ACT & SAT.

Continue to visit colleges.

Take SAT II Tests.

Create Common Application account in summer—take SENIOR SUMMER with EEC!

Senior year

Finalize a well-balanced 5-8 school list.

Take SAT & ACT.

Work closely with your school’s college counselor.

Submit applications & Finish School Strong!

EEC ‘s Spring Consulting Services and Classes

SHSAT Class begins Saturday, April 2nd! Sign up by emailing info@evolveded.com

Consulting for Test Preparation Planning, Student Plans, or Summer Education Opportunities available. Sign up by emailing info@evolveded.com

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!