What You Need to Know About The Sat and ACT

For more than 50 years, colleges have been using SAT and ACT scores for student admissions, but some things have changed over time.  For example, the high scores for both the SAT and ACT have changed due to the writing portion of the test. Colleges found the scoring of the essays to be subjective, and stopped considering it.  Therefore, the new scores reflect a composite number without consideration of the essay.  The essay portion is still offered and some colleges encourage it.  

Students can take either the ACT or the SAT unless the college they are applying requires one over the other (very few prefer one over the other).  Colleges look at these scores regardless of whether the student was taught in public school, private school or home schooled.  Both tests are offered on the computer or paper and pencil and the parent/student pays a fee each time a test is taken.  Both tests are offered 6 times per year, outside of the regular school day.

Here is some information you may need to know regarding the SAT and ACT:

SAT

https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat

  • Cost is between $45 and $57 depending on whether you take the writing portion
  • Testing time: About 3 hours for the entire test
  • There are 154 questions, not including the essay
  • Students are tested in Reading, Writing, Math, and Science and receive a composite score for each category.
  • The highest SAT score is a 1600
    • Florida State University requires a 560/640 on the Reading, Math and Writing portion
    • To find the requirements at your college of choice, click here.

ACT

http://www.act.org

  • Cost is $42.50 without the essay and $58.50 with the essay.
  • Testing time is just under 3 hours
  • The ACT includes 215 multiple-choice questions
  • Students are tested in Reading, Writing, Math, and Science and receive a composite score for each category.
  • The highest score on the ACT is a 36
    • Florida State requires an ACT composite score of a 25/29  
    • For more information on average ACT requirements for colleges click here.

If you want more information of which test to take, click here to see a comparison chart.

If you’re going to college, you should start preparing for these tests as soon as possible.  The PSAT can be taken as early as 8th grade.  Even though you may not have all the knowledge to take the test by then, you should begin to familiarize yourself with it.  
Best of luck!

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Don’t Get it Twisted, Kids are Being Tested for Profit

First let me say, I realize that testing is a part of life.  Whether our students want to be lawyers, teachers, auto mechanics or beauticians, they have to pass tests to get degrees and certifications necessary for these jobs.  Who doesn’t remember sitting in a testing room for hours while you take an exam that determines whether you pass a course, earn your degree, or get that certification for the job of your dreams?  I get anxiety just thinking about it.

I am not anti testing, but testing in the state of Florida has gotten out of control.

State tests like the FSA and EOC are used by government officials to grant school funding and measure effectiveness.  Jeb Bush is the champion for Common Core, high stakes testing, and linking school funding to student performance.  It’s no wonder that he personally profits from the use of testing companies, like  Pearson, who give millions of dollars to his campaign.  Politicians have found a way to make public education profitable.

The FSA test cost our state $220 million of taxpayer dollars 

Tax dollars are even paying random people to score the test, rather than professionals (see Craigs List ad below).  Apparently a teacher’s degree and professional certification isn’t good enough to score student tests.   

Meanwhile in schools across the state, students are forced to sit in over crowded testing rooms for hours at a time, missing months of valuable instruction per year.

The disruption to student learning cannot be ignored

It’s not just the FSA that’s causing our students to suffer, over the course of one week my daughter sat in a testing room for 16 hours out of her 30 hour school week to take End of Course exams.  She sat next to a boy from Nigeria who speaks little English yet was required to take the test beside her.  His score also counts toward the school’s grade and toward his teacher’s performance pay.

End of Course Exams are now state mandated and are no longer created by teachers

Since 2014, final exams must now be created by people elected by the District, and made according to state standards.  EOC’s are required for every subject, even those without specific standards.  Teachers are not allowed to see the test and when asked for a review, District refers them to a list of 50 generic standards online.

I administered an EOC English test which students reported 14 errors in either grammar, punctuation or spelling.  One question was worded so poorly, we couldn’t even figure out what they were asking.  Teachers are not allowed to help their students and must stress the importance of these tests, even though the tests are an embarrassment and do not support their instruction.

The FLDOE website shows an average of only 50% of students passing their EOC’s 

This is a problem and our teachers are not to blame.  Students are failing because they are not being assessed fairly.  They are being penalized as each EOC counts as 10% of their final grade.  Students who can’t pass the FSA receive a certification of completion rather than a diploma.  Teachers who spent the year watching and celebrating their student’s growth, are helpless at the end of the year.  All due to poorly constructed, high stakes tests.  

politicians are using tests as a weapon to destroy public schools

Since these ridiculous state tests are not required in private, charter or home based schools, frustrated parents are pulling their kids out of public school at alarming rates.  This is not due to failing public schools, this is due to greedy politicians who want to standardize our students and then penalize them when they don’t fit the mold.

If there were no profit in testing, teachers would still be able to assess their own kids.  They would be treated as the professionals they are with degrees and hours of professional trainings each year.   

Article by Jeffrey Solochek, “Pasco County Teachers Raise Concerns About Fairness of District Finals” Tampa Bay Times May 17, 2017

If there was an actual benefit to the FSA and State EOC’s, all schools would use it, including private, charter, and home schools.  If tests were more than just a tool to deny schools funding and teachers the pay they’ve earned, it would actually assess what the kids are learning, after they’ve learned it.  

I love public education and I will fight for it.  I think public school teachers are the strongest, most caring people on the planet.  In spite of all the political interference, they put our children first.  I believe administrators love their school and want the best for everyone, but they’re afraid.  Afraid that if they don’t follow these ridiculous requirements they will lose everything.

Our schools are being blackmailed and need your help.  Stand up for our kids.  Write your superintendent and your legislatures:

  • Tell them your kids deserve to be tested less and taught more.
  • Tell them to throw out this ridiculous EOC and allow teachers to take back their classrooms.  
  • Tell them their tests do not accurately measure your child’s growth and ability.   
  • Tell them you want tests created by the people who actually teach your kids.  
  • Tell them your child is smarter, and better than their test.

In the meantime, look into opting out of the FSA:  https://www.facebook.com/TheOptOutFloridaNetwork/

Make sure your children are taking the proper tests that count for their future.  The ACT and SAT are still required for college acceptance and students can begin testing in 8th grade.  Requirements for the SAT and ACT have changed in recent years.  If you’re interested in finding out more information regarding college acceptance requirements, click here.

If you were asked what you remember most from school, I’m guessing it wouldn’t be testing. Let’s make sure our kids get the experiences and the education they deserve.


For source information click the pictures and links above.

 

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The Value of Teachers

Once, on vacation a friend asked me why teachers always seem to complain.  He knew I loved teaching and the question seemed to come from nowhere, but it stung.  “If you only knew,” I thought.  A million responses rang through my head; lack of support and resources, ridiculous evaluations for teachers and students, massive workload without compensation, but instead I said,

“I guess because they feel undervalued.”

Today, a teacher’s value revolves around accountability and data; It’s formulaic.  Teachers are expected to teach a specific way, using a framework chosen (and paid for) by their state.  If they don’t use this framework, they receive low evaluations which not only affects pay but public shame by being published on the internet.  They are given standards to teach, often scripted using resources also paid for by the state.  Finally, students are given tests, chosen and paid for by the State, which are supposed to align with those standards.  

Let’s put aside the validity of these tests and evaluation measures; who makes them, who edits them, who scores and derives data from them.  Let’s even turn our heads for a moment, to the politicians and stock owners who have found a way to profit off the intended failure of our students and teachers.  Instead, let’s focus on what happens to the value of a teacher under this model.

Do you remember the teacher who sat at her desk while you completed scripted worksheets?

Do you remember the teacher who kept a sterile classroom?

Do you remember the teacher who facilitated test, after test, after test?

Most people remember the teacher who brought lessons to life with passion and enthusiasm.  Who went off script and got them to care about issues outside of the classroom walls.  Most people remember the teacher who was well liked by current, former and even future students for being involved in clubs and activities that enhanced their school experience.  Students remember teachers who had warm classrooms, who cared for them and helped them, not because they were told to, but because that’s why they became a teacher.  It’s who they are.

You can’t tell a teacher to care less about her student’s individuality and more about standardizing them.  You can’t turn their passionate lessons into scripted workbooks.  You can’t take them away from their students just to redesign curriculum that inspired, changed, or motivated them to believe in themselves.  You can’t turn classrooms into testing labs and teachers into robots.  You can’t turn their students into numbers.

A teacher’s value lies in her students. Teachers are complaining to defend our nation’s kids, not their jobs.  Under the present model of profit through evaluation and data driven results, our schools become factories, our teachers become robots, and our kids become a product.  A numerical value resides where individual worth, importance, and usefulness once did.

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