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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

03/15/2017

MCC Offers Spring Open House


Manchester Community College (MCC) is offering prospective students an opportunity to attend an "Open House" from 4 pm to 6:30 pm on Tuesday, April 4.  Workshops will be held in Great Path Academy (part of MCC) on a variety of topics - including the admissions process, paying for college, and credit transfer.  

For more information, click here.  


Registration for AP Exams Begins Continues Until March 24

Students interested in taking AP exams must register for them in the Guidance Office.  Registration began on Monday, March 6th and concludes on Friday, March 24th. Scheduled during the first two weeks of May, these three-hour exams are offered in a variety of subject areas.  The registration fee is $20 (cash or checks made payable to EO Smith) per exam, with the balance of $73 paid (total cost for each exam is $93) on the day of each exam.  For more information go to AP Central.

National College Fair Dates

The National College Fair, a program offered by the National Association for College Admissions Counselors, is "on tour" and will be in Hartford on April 6/7, Springfield on April 3, and Providence on May 8 .  Several colleges from around the country will be represented at booths.  In addition, workshops will be offered on such topics as the admissions process and financial aid.  Students may register by clicking here.

Register for Free SAT Prep Through Khan Academy


The College Board has partnered with Khan Academy to provide free SAT support in preparation to take the SAT.  Click here to set up your own personalized program.

CT Dollars and Sense


A new website was launched on Feb. 16 called CT Dollars and Sense – a web portal for Connecticut students and parents to find out how to plan, save and pay for college.   Click here or on the aforementioned title for more information.
The site provides information from five State agencies supporting students and their families: the Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET), the Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority (CHESLA), the Office of Higher Education, the Department of Banking, and the Department of Consumer Protection. There is also a Financial Literacy platform on the site that covers Paying for School, Managing Money, and Finding a Career.
Try it.

UConn Pre-College Summer: 

A Campus Experience for Talented Teens


Get a glimpse of college life this summer and immerse yourself in a research or creative project  with peers with similar interests at 2017 UCONN Pre-College Summer. July 9 – August 5 (four one-week sessions).  If you are a current 10th or 11th grade student, continue reading.

Experience college life in a supportive setting.  Attend presentations about the Honors Program, Undergraduate Admissions, First Year Experience, and career planning and meet representatives from the many cultural centers and communities on campus.   Join an evening activity and have fun getting to know the students and residential staff.

For more information click here or call 860.486.0149.

ECE Offers Scholarship Opportunity

The Office of Early College Programs (OECP) has announced that applications for new student scholarships are now being accepted. These scholarships will be awarded to exemplary UConn ECE students in three separate areas of excellence, with a total of five awards given each year. Scholarships will be for: 
  • Excellence in the Arts, Humanities or Social Sciences (2 awards) 
  • Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (2 awards) 
  • Civic and Community Engagement (1 award) 
Students selected for these awards will receive a certificate of accomplishment along with a $500 monetary award to use towards post-secondary education expenses. 
Applications will be accepted until March 30, 2017. Applicants will be notified of the outcome in early May. Recipients of these scholarships will be presented their check and award certificate at their high school between May 15th- June 15th. 
Please take a moment to view the new webpage with all of the details by clicking here. Contact the OECP for more information.

Is Average Good Enough Now?


Let's say that someone asks you to compare yourself to the average person.  You know - the Average Joe, Plain Jane type.  If you're like most people, you'll probably rate yourself above average.  So, being like most people, this then actually makes you quite normal.  But think about it - if people on average consider themselves to be above average, then what's this say about average?  Is it now normal to be above average?  Or are we deluding ourselves by thinking this?

What is "average", anyway?  Well, in statistical speak, you probably recall from a math class in your past that average is a measure of central tendency that may be expressed in several ways - like mean, median, and mode.  It's basic arithmetic - or at least it should be.  The one most commonly referred to is the arithmetic mean that's calculated by adding the sum total of a group of whatever and dividing it by that number of whatever.  Of course, the flaw with this kind of average is that it may be skewed by what's called outliers.  For example, let's say Average Joe makes $25000, Plain Jane earns $22000, and Tom, Dick, and Harry each makes $31000.  Meanwhile, their boss, Jay Gatsby, is pocketing a tidy sum of $1,200,000.  You do the math.  The average (mean) individual salary earned in this group is $233,333.33. But what's this tell you.  Not much, except maybe that Jay looks like your average CEO and Jane's wages may be deflated because she stayed home to raise her children during those first few years.  

Besides, it's typically not the average we even consider when we're referring to what's normal.  Rarely is one THE average, anyway (although we often assume we know).  Think about it - who has 2.06 kids (the average number of children per family in the US)?  Solving for the average "x" poses a challenge in several ways.  What's the average family?  It's NOT a nuclear family comprised of a married couple with two (and .06) children living in suburban sprawl.  Not even close.  As for education, it's hardly the case that the typical college student resides on a bucolic campus, moves methodically through a course of studies and graduates in four years.  More accurately, the "non-traditional student" has become the new normal as only 41% of college students actually earn degrees in the "average" time frame of four years.  This number rises to 59% when extending to six years. 

Nevertheless, averages are used all the time.   We humans can't help but make social comparisons.  Nothing seems to matter unless it's in the context of a norm.  We do this with our kids just soon after they exit the delivery room and first weigh in and are measured for length ("Percentile, please?").  It escalates when they enter grade school and boils over with that first purchase of the US News & World Report edition of "Best Colleges". We crave rankings of every kind even when we know they aren't necessarily accurate (but they're "numbers"!)...or always good for us, either.  Still, norms and rankings lend a perspective by providing a location for us on that distribution spread known as the bell curve.  And, of course, we need to be at least somewhere in the middle of that curve - preferably near the high end.

But what if averages don't even matter anymore?  What if Average Is Over (click on it to read), a piece written by Tom Friedman appearing in the NY Times, and that Tyler Cowen actually slapped on the cover for the title of his book?  In each case, the aforementioned writers argue that average has indeed expired.  For Friedman, he claims that there is no longer a place for vanilla-flavored talent in this expanded global economy while Cowen pours vinegar all over the sacrosanct middle-class.  It sure seems like being "normal" these days puts one, oddly enough, in the depths of that bell curve rather than near its peak. Being middle-of-the-road, it seems, no longer earns you membership in the middle-class.  Even worse, if you buy this story by Cowen, the middle-class is slowly becoming a recollection of the glory days gone by.

So, even if we can't arrive at what being average means today, it's becoming more apparent that we need to be better than average if we want to achieve success and make a living that will deliver a meaningful life and engaging employment - the kind once enjoyed by the now dissolving middle-class.  It now seems like we have in one corner Average Joe, Plain Jane, and Tom, Dick and Harry and in the other corner we have people like Jay Gatsby.  And then there is the Great Divide that once housed the middle-of-the-road populace that is now the U-shaped Valley of the Ashes.  We are, according to Friedman and Cowen, becoming a land of outliers.

What's this mean?  It means that if we rate ourselves above average, we better be able to back it up.  We better be able to stand apart and distinguish ourselves in ways that are recognizable and valued and can be validated.  And we need to continue to do this throughout our lives.  Even if we can't define normal/average, we probably can tell what it looks like.  Average these days simply means eh-verage.  If all one can say about you or me is "eh", then we may need to think about for whom the bell curve tolls.

For more information about what all of this may mean in the future, you may want to click on any or all of the articles listed below.







  

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

03/01/2017

Registration for AP Exams Begins on Monday, March 6

Students interested in taking AP exams must register for them in the Guidance Office.  Registration begins on Monday, March 6th and concludes on Friday, March 24th. Scheduled during the first two weeks of May, these three-hour exams are offered in a variety of subject areas.  The registration fee is $20 (cash or checks made payable to EO Smith) per exam, with the balance of $73 paid (total cost for each exam is $93) on the day of each exam.  For more information go to AP Central.

National College Fair Dates

The National College Fair, a program offered by the National Association for College Admissions Counselors, is "on tour" and will be in Hartford on April 6/7, Springfield on April 3, and Providence on May 8 .  Several colleges from around the country will be represented at booths.  In addition, workshops will be offered on such topics as the admissions process and financial aid.  Students may register by clicking here.

Register for Free SAT Prep Through Khan Academy


The College Board has partnered with Khan Academy to provide free SAT support in preparation to take the SAT.  Click here to set up your own personalized program.

CT Dollars and Sense


A new website was launched on Feb. 16 called CT Dollars and Sense – a web portal for Connecticut students and parents to find out how to plan, save and pay for college.   Click here or on the aforementioned title for more information.
The site provides information from five State agencies supporting students and their families: the Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET), the Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority (CHESLA), the Office of Higher Education, the Department of Banking, and the Department of Consumer Protection. There is also a Financial Literacy platform on the site that covers Paying for School, Managing Money, and Finding a Career.
Try it.

UConn Pre-College Summer: 

A Campus Experience for Talented Teens


Get a glimpse of college life this summer and immerse yourself in a research or creative project  with peers with similar interests at 2017 UCONN Pre-College Summer. July 9 – August 5 (four one-week sessions).  If you are a current 10th or 11th grade student, continue reading.. 

 UCONN Mentor Connection is unique because it will provide students with the opportunity for hands-on participation in research and creative projects under the supervision of university mentors.  Students will learn more about their area of interests and could very well be on the path to deciding their college major.

Experience college life in a supportive setting.  Attend presentations about the Honors Program, Undergraduate Admissions, First Year Experience, and career planning and meet representatives from the many cultural centers and communities on campus.   Join an evening activity and have fun getting to know the students and residential staff.

For more information click here or call 860.486.0149.

ECE Offers Scholarship Opportunity

The Office of Early College Programs (OECP) has announced that applications for new student scholarships are now being accepted. These scholarships will be awarded to exemplary UConn ECE students in three separate areas of excellence, with a total of five awards given each year. Scholarships will be for: 
  • Excellence in the Arts, Humanities or Social Sciences (2 awards) 
  • Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (2 awards) 
  • Civic and Community Engagement (1 award) 
Students selected for these awards will receive a certificate of accomplishment along with a $500 monetary award to use towards post-secondary education expenses. 
Applications will be accepted from February 15, 2017- March 30, 2017. Applicants will be notified of the outcome in early May. Recipients of these scholarships will be presented their check and award certificate at their high school between May 15th- June 15th. 
Please take a moment to view the new webpage with all of the details by clicking here. Contact the OECP for more information.

QVCC Offers Scholarships

The QVCC Foundation is awarding $135000 in scholarships to students attend school there.  The application deadline is Friday, March 10.  For more information about this scholarship opportunity, click on this link - QVCC Scholarships. 






Wednesday, February 15, 2017

02/15/17


Follow EOS Guidance Twitter

If you haven't already done so and you're a Twitter user, take a moment to add @eos_guidance to your account.  Get up-to-date announcements, links, and the like on a regular basis.  Check out the link in the upper left corner and add it to your list.

Check Out the Message Board

Be sure to check out the Message Board (link is in upper right corner of this page) for updates on information about a variety of topics, including scholarship opportunities.  This board is the same one on display in the EOS main foyer and Guidance Department Office.

Registration for AP Exams Begins on Monday, March 6

Students interested in taking AP exams must register for them in the Guidance Office.  Registration begins on Monday, March 6th and concludes on Friday, March 24th. Scheduled during the first two weeks of May, these three-hour exams are offered in a variety of subject areas.  The registration fee is $20 (cash or checks made payable to EO Smith) per exam, with the balance of $73 paid (total cost for each exam is $93) on the day of each exam.  For more information go to AP Central.

Tuition Discounts for Connecticut Residents

Looking for a discount on college tuition? Well, the New England Board of Higher Education may have a program for you. Called the Regional Student Program (RSP) Tuition Break, this program is a partnership comprised of the public colleges and universities in New England that offers more than 700 undergraduate and graduate degree programs and provides a significant discount on regular out-of-state tuition rates to eligible students. 

Here's how it works - residents of one New England state are eligible when they attend certain public colleges in the other five New England states and pursue majors not offered by public colleges in their home state.  This means that a CT resident may enroll in an out-of-state public school in New England and pay what amounts to almost in-state tuition provided that the major pursued at the college is not one offered by any of the public colleges and universities in CT.

If interested (and why wouldn't you be?), you can find more information about the program as well as majors available elsewhere at Regional Student Program Tuition Break. You can also read testimonials from graduates of the RSP by clicking here.  

Click here for fast facts about the the college landscape in New England and here for information about how many students typically transfer and where.  Click here for program's annual report (2016-17).

Updates on NCAA Clearinghouse Eligibility

Students who enroll full time at an NCAA Division I school this fall must graduate high school and meet ALL the following requirements:

  • Complete 16 core courses:
  • Four years of English
  • Three years of math (Algebra 1 or higher)
  • Two years of natural/physical science (including one year of lab science if your high school offers it)
  • One additional year of English, math or natural/physical science
  • Two years of social science
  • Four additional years of English, math, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy 
  • Complete 10 core courses, including seven in English, math or natural/physical science, before the start of the seventh semester. Once students begin their seventh semester, they must have more than 10 core courses completed to be able to repeat or replace any of the 10 courses used in the preliminary academic certification.
  •  Earn at least a 2.3 GPA in their core courses. 
  • Earn an SAT combined score or ACT sum score matching their core-course GPA on the Division I sliding scale, which balances their test score and core-course GPA. If students have a low test score, they will need a higher core-course GPA to be eligible. If they have a low core-course GPA, they will need a higher test score to be eligible.  
For more information, click on the NCAA Eligibility Center link and NCAA Student Guide listed on the left side of this page.


Joint Yale/FBI Program

The New Haven Field Office of the FBI and Yale University Police Department are proud to announce the second annual Future Law Enforcement Youth Academy (FLEYA). Two of America’s most notable and iconic institutions have partnered to create a week-long law enforcement and legal training camp for Connecticut teenagers June 18 – June 24, 2017.
Applications are currently being accepted for the 2017 Future Law Enforcement Youth Academy (FLEYA). The deadline to apply is March 10, 2017.
The Future Law Enforcement Youth Academy (FLEYA) will give participants an inside look at today’s FBI and exposure to various local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and practices.
Participants will receive specific classroom training and practical exercises in investigative forensics, cyber technology techniques for combating violent crime, counterintelligence, gang awareness, and civil rights. Assistant US Attorneys and State Attorneys, local police, judges, and federal agents will lead trainings and classes.
FLEYA participants will be housed on the Yale campus, chaperoned by law enforcement and FBI employees, including Yale PD officers and FBI National Academy Alumni. Each participant will be matched with an alumni officer from his/her county to promote ongoing connections and networking.
All applicants must:
  • Be between 15–18 years of age and returning to a Connecticut high school in 2017 
  • Be full-time Connecticut resident 
  • Be committed to physical fitness through sports or other activity 
  • Have a minimum GPA of 2.7 
  • Submit a completed online application which includes a 200 word essay 
  • Participate in an initial telephone interview if selected by staff members of the academy 
  • Participate in a final panel interview at FBI New Haven 
Student applications and instructions for FLEYA can be found at here.
Twenty-Eight (28) students from urban, rural, and suburban CT high schools will be selected to participate. The program seeks students from diverse racial, and cultural backgrounds. This program will promote tolerance, unity, and the importance of partnerships for success in the working world.
The application deadline is March 10, 2017.
Community Outreach Specialist (COS) Charles Grady
Charles.Grady@ic.fbi.gov
203 503 5207
Training/Civic Liaison Specialist JoAnn Benson
JoAnn.Benson2@ic.fbi.gov
203 503 5270


Hidden Figures In the Arts and Sciences


Perhaps you've seen the movie "Hidden Figures" that has played in theaters recently (click here for the trailer).  Thought-provoking, for sure, it's a story that reveals a whole host of socio-cultural issues that were present in the sixties, with several remaining still today. One such issue is our fascination with numbers and the power they seem to possess.  The storyline in the movie addresses the meaning often hidden in the figures.  It's a message that could very easily be applied to the fascination we hold with test scores today.  

An article published in the New York Times a couple of years ago titled "Creativity vs. Quants" (click here for it) shines a light on the aforementioned fascination.  It's especially relevant as we learn more about how artificial intelligence and automation threaten to take over several occupations currently served by human beings.  It's also why the Rhode Island School of Design added the A in STE(A)M.  The writer pays homage to chaotic thinking as a necessary precursor to the creative process, a process that remains uniquely human.  There is also mention made of the critical stage of incubation that precedes the "aha" moment, that period when inspiration is in the prenatal stage and takes form out of sight before an idea is born.  It's this element, especially in the mix of teaching and learning, that requires attention if today's students will become productive employees/citizens as adults in the years to come.  Tests, no doubt, measure some things.  And other things count that simply can't be measured.  

I recently watched a full orchestra perform that was comprised of students in a conservatory.  These students are also required to major in another field outside of music for reasons I'll avoid mentioning now for the sake of brevity.  What is worth mentioning is that the orchestra conductor also happened to be the president of this college.  I wondered, as I watched him lead the sections through musical scores, if he viewed his faculty and staff as an orchestra in a similar way to how he viewed the musicians he was leading that night.  If he did, I wondered how he would arrange the sectionals by discipline - and why.  Where and why would he arrange content areas in such a way as to blend the separate disciplines - the arts and the sciences -  into a complementary whole.

It's the creative tension (harmony) played by the sectionals that creates a full sound.  And the whole, if performed properly, becomes greater than the sum of its parts.  Likewise, it's the creative tension celebrated by any group (why not include the New England Patriots here as a current example) that, collectively, makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts.  It's when 1+1=3.  And this is why it's hard to quantify.

Standardized assessments (both formative and summative) have their place as measurements for growth in learning.  Valid and reliable tests that measure what they're designed to measure can be valid and reliable tools in the process.  That said, it's also necessary to look beyond the numbers in a similar way that we sometimes need to read between the lines.  This takes courage... and sometimes requires chaos.


So, the piece is worth a few minutes of your time (and the movie is worth several more).  It really shouldn't be about quants vs. creativity.  And discussions about change shouldn't be about this ( for example, standardized assessments) or that (for example, class grades).  It shouldn't be about the sciences or the arts, either.  Rather, discussions should be about this AND that.  It's this kind of mindset, one that is comfortable with chaos and ambiguity, that can lead to substantive change.  It's this duality that can't really be separated (think about the term "indivi-dual") that needs to be recognized.  And it's about a collective will to embrace it if we are to retain the human-ities in our schools.



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

02/01/2017


MCC Registration Closes on February 3

Students enrolled in MCC courses at EOS have until February 3 to register for dual (EOS and MCC) credits.  Instructions for on-line registration have been provided via Guidance Matters. 

To date, several students still have not registered for these FREE courses.  Teachers and counselors have reminded students to register for these free credits.  And the Guidance Office has identified students who are enrolled in these courses at EOS but have not yet registered with MCC.  The identified students and their parents received an email on Monday (January 30) urging them to register.

Please remind students to complete this registration process by February 3.  MCC will NOT accept registration forms submitted after this date. 


Students should contact their counselors if they need more information.

2017-18 Course Selections Process Begins

Power School Portal  Opens This Week

The initial stage of the 2017-18 course selection process has begun.  Students are encouraged to select courses through the Power School portal now.  Current ninth-graders have actually already (tentatively) selected their courses with the help of counselors  by way of English 9 classes.

This first step in the process allows EOSHS to pour the foundation for the eventual construction of the 2017-18 master schedule.  Note that students will have several opportunities to make changes on their list of selections in the months ahead.  You should also note that counselors will discuss course selections and confirm choices during their  individual meetings with students and their parents/guardians that are currently taking place.

Keep in mind, too, that four-year plans of study for various post secondary options are available in Naviance.  Click on the "Courses" tab for the plans as well as to access the full list of course descriptions in the curriculum.

Mailing Senior Transcripts

 (Mid-Year School Reports) 


Seniors applying to colleges know that their first semester grades are typically required by college admissions offices.  Mid-year school reports that show only first semester grades will be mailed electronically to colleges when these grades became permanent after a final audit this week.  Thus, colleges to which students submitted applications should receive these reports in the next week.

Registration for AP Exams Begins on Monday, March 6

Students interested in taking AP exams must register for them in the Guidance Office.  Registration begins on Monday, March 7th and concludes on Friday, March 24th. Scheduled during the first two weeks of May, these three-hour exams are offered in a variety of subject areas.  The registration fee is $20 (cash or checks made payable to EO Smith) per exam, with the balance of $73 paid (total cost for each exam is $93) on the day of each exam.  For more information go to AP Central.

Dual Enrollment Courses Available at EOSHS

EOSHS has, arguably, the most extensive array of dual enrollment courses in Connecticut.  These courses are available to students as both high school and college courses (thus, the "dual" designation).  So students enrolled in these courses earn high school credits while simultaneously earning college credits as well.  EOSHS offers these courses through UConn, ECSU, and MCC.  

For course descriptions, go to your Naviance Family Connections page and click on the "Courses" tab.  The list is below.

UConn Early College Experience Courses

AD English (UC ENGL 1010)
AD Biology (UC BIOL 1107)
AD Biology (UC BIOL 1108)
AD Biotechnology (UC PLSC 3230) 
AD Latin 4 (UC CAMS 3102)
AD Latin 5 (UC CAMS 3102)
AD Microeconomics (UC ECON 1201)
AD Macroeconomics (UC ECON 1202)
AD French 5 (UC FREN 3250 and 3268)
AD German 5 (UC GERM 3233 and 3255)
AD World Civilizations (UC HIST 1300)
AD Modern European History (UC HIST 1400)
AD US History (UC HIST 1501and 1502)
AD Individual & Family Development (UC HDFS 1070)
AD Latin America Studies (UC LAMS 1190)
Discrete Math (UC MATH 1030Q)
AD Calculus (UC MATH 1131Q and 1132Q)
AD Physics Engineering (UC PHYS 1401Q and PHYS 1402Q)
AD Physics (UC PHYS 1201Q and 1202Q)
AD Spanish 5 (UC SPAN 3178 and 3179)
AD Statistics (UC STAT 1100Q)

ECSU Courses

ECSU Human Biology (BIO 202/203)
ECSU Math for Liberal Arts (MAT 135)
ECSU Calculus A (MAT 243)

MCC Courses

Accounting 1A (MCC ACC 115)
Human Anatomy & Physiology A (MCC BIO 115)
Intro to Criminal Justice (MCC CJS 101)
Video Productions 1 & 2 (MCC COM 240)
Allied Health (MCC HLT 103)
Tech-Prep Culinary Arts (MCC HSP 101)
Quantitative Literacy (MCC MAT 109)
Algebra 3 and Trigonometry (MCC MAT 138)
Foundations for College Success (MCC SD 111)
English 12A (MCC ENGL 101)
Personal Finance (MCC BFN 111)

In addition to these dual enrollment courses listed above, EOSHS also offers AP Studio Art, AP Chemistry, AP French 4, AP German 4, AP Spanish 4, AP Psychology and AP Computer Science.  Earning satisfactory scores on the AP exams in these courses (as determined by each college and university) may translate into college credits as well.

Finally, Marketing is offered to students in a manner that prepares them to take the CLEP exam for college credits.  For more information about CLEP, click here.  

PE Department Offers Options in 2017-18


The Physical Education Department will offer a series of "selectives" in 2017-18 to 10th and 11th graders.  In addition to PE 10-11, students may select from the options listed below;

Team Sports: Students will try a variety of team sports in a more competitive setting,
Yoga: Students will have an opportunity to practice yoga and mindfulness   
Ultimate Frisbee/Racquet Sports: Students will learn the skills and strategy of ultimate frisbee as well as racquet sports (tennis, badminton, pickleball, eclipse ball). 
Sports Performance: Students will be able to develop and execute their own workout plan.  
Adventure PE: Students will use team building to accomplish challenges and in some cases low ropes course obstacles (a field trip may be included to a high ropes course park). 
Circuit Training: A more basic introduction to fitness using everything from kickboxing to weight training as a basis for developing strength and stamina.
Aerobic Dance: Students will be able to develop and execute their own dance routines as well. 
Lifetime Fitness: (golf, archery, backyard games etc..)


Students should consult with their current PE teachers for more information and contact their counselors to inform them of their choices. 

What Does It Mean to Be Educated?


What does it mean to be "educated"?  And how is one who is considered to be "educated" different from one who is "uneducated"?  Even if you gave scant attention to the recent elections, you would most certainly have heard pollsters place voters in one or the other category.  Is it really the case that one is either educated  - or not?   On what basis?

It seems like most of us have our own ideas about what should be taught in school, how it should be taught, and what kids should know and be able to demonstrate (skills) at the end of grade 12 (or 14 or 16.. or even 20, for that matter).   That most everyone has been schooled in some form or fashion during the first two or three decades of their lives provides an experience from which to form their views.  And there is no shortage of opinions on this issue.  As much disagreement as there may be when you listen to anyone who's ever weighed in, though, you eventually reach the conclusion that this much we do know - school is a good place for kids to be.  And there's this much we don't know - what kids should learn (and how they should learn it) by the time their tickets are punched for life-after-high-school. 

What we do know is that piles of data collected in recent years show the value of education in terms of how much money you've banked, whether you dine on Taco Bell or Bell & Evans, if you remember to vote and care to show up at the polls, and if you choose to volunteer or are forced to live in fear..of the next crisis - health, financial, or otherwise - that eventually puts you in deep and paralyzing debt.  If schools function to prepare students for productive work and active citizenship, then we know they are.   So, we can safely conclude that a relationship exists between higher education and higher income, etc.  But do we know what it really means to be an educated human being?  And do we really know what we should expect a high school graduate to know and be able to demonstrate at graduation in 2020? 

It often becomes heated because both questions tend to be politically charged.  Why?  Here's why - the answers reflect value judgments that often clash among competing interest groups.  What does it mean to be an educated person?  What is it that they know (ideas, knowledge) and are able to do (read, write, quantify, think critically) that earns them this status?  What skills do they possess (even "have in hand" as in hands-on skills)?  Is this "knowledge" different today than it may have been, say, a decade ago?  Two decades ago?  (Check out "What Does It Mean to Be Educated?" in "For Reading" to the right of this page).

Well, this much we know - we seem not to know.  High schools and colleges can't seem to agree. They can't agree among themselves within groups or even what the other should do.  Which group knows for sure?  Or put another way, who's more educated on this issue?  Is this a multiple choice question with one right answer? Or is there more than just one?

Even a cursory review of graduation requirements at three colleges, never mind the three thousand or so more out there, will reveal pretty significant differences in what students are expected to know.  St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland (and Santa Fe, New Mexico), a highly respected (in academia) but little known (by the mainstream population) college, requires all students to complete the exact same curriculum - reading the same books and taking the same courses (with a little wiggle room in what it calls "preceptorials").  The school promotes itself as the ideal liberal arts institution and assigns students many of the "Great Books" chosen by a panel of faculty members and students (changed periodically).  So, students are expected to know the same curriculum.  Brown University in Providence, RI, on the other hand, is the yogi master in higher education. The school offers total flexibility in its "open curriculum", giving students the freedom to choose ANY courses they wish as long as the credits bend in a way that match the number of credits prescribed for an "individualized"  degree.  And all the other schools fall somewhere along the continuum that begins with St. John's College at one point and ends with Brown at the other.  UConn is one of these "tweeners", a hybrid of sorts that requires students to choose from a menu of courses that's organized kind of like food groups.  Students are free to choose items as long as they select from each of the four "tables" (content areas) on the way to their "main course" of studies.  Know that it resembles a Sunday brunch - lots of items from which to choose and plenty to digest. But you'll probably discover that your plate looks much different from others' at your seating arrangement - unless you're sitting with someone who's selected the same major.  And if it is much different, does it matter?   Is the college experience essentially the same for both?  Or is one more educated than another?

So, think about it - is it a stretch to say that one college produces more educated graduates than another?  Or one major more than another?   Do we really know?  What's more, do we even know what these graduates know (more on this below)?  Or is it simply the degree in hand that confers the label "educated" upon them?

And what about high schools?  What should students really know and be able to demonstrate when their date of manufacture is stamped at graduation?  The CT State Department of Education (CSDE) provides broad requirements for high schools in the state to follow (which are supposed to change in the near future), but local school districts usually add their own ingredients to the mix - presumably because they know what students are expected to know and be able to demonstrate.  But even within high schools there are differences in department requirements - some are more specific than others.  

Confusing?  Everyone seems to have their own ideas about what students should really know (and, of course, be able to do), but there doesn't seem to be much agreement.  It's little wonder, then, why many colleges still cling to the SAT or ACT requirement in order to evaluate readiness for success in higher education (for those who now make it optional, there are other reasons for this than simply thinking they agree that the test is flawed - one major reason is that it drives up applications)?  However "invalid" the test may be, it's at least a measure that may be applied to all students (who choose to take it) regardless of the schools they attend or even courses of studies they take within their respective schools.  And there's still another test for some students to "pass" - the Accuplacer has received its fair share of attention in recent years as more students opt for community colleges.  If you don't know, the Accuplacer is a placement test designed to accurately place students in English and math courses (see more about this below).  Both tests - the SAT/ACT and Accuplacer - are intended to measure what students know and are able to do.  

There are all sorts of discussions about common assessments and a common curriculum that should be set in stone for all high schools throughout the country to follow.   Even colleges have argued about this as the federal government not long ago put pressure on them to put in place some kind of assessment that measures growth over the duration of a college experience (click on the link to learn more about the Collegiate Learning Assessment).  All that exists now to measure the "value" of colleges are SAT scores, acceptance rates, and yield rates on those accepted - all measures of entering students and not of those graduating from the colleges.  Moreover, the college loan debt crisis has been an albatross for many college graduates as it holds them back from becoming financially independent full-scale adults.  The federal government has recently intervened with its College Scorecard, a measure that considers average earnings of graduates from specific colleges.  But this is a flawed metric, never mind that it measures educational value strictly in monetary terms.

What's more, high schools and colleges don't agree with each other on what a student should know at the time in their lives when they become eligible to vote.  Of the seventy percent of high school graduates who go on to some form of higher education, less than half actually complete a four-year degree (that's about 28% of the population).  And many take more than four years to do it.  For those who choose (or have no choice but to go to) community colleges, about forty percent don't meet the benchmarks on placement tests (Accuplacer) and are placed in not-yet-ready-for-prime-time remedial courses that cost lots of money but are worth nothing in terms of college credits.  For the vast majority of these students, college ends before they officially ever get there.  Click here for a recent report on this issue.

​If you listen to the experts, there's a growing divide between those who have and those who wish they had.  The middle is disappearing.  Where's this taking us?

Let's acknowledge that a four-year degree is not for every high school graduate - nor should it have to be.  But some form of higher education needs to be, especially in a changing economy that's beginning to take on an hour-glass shape, one in which there will be plenty of jobs available that require professional degrees and plenty that we'll always need - plumbers, electricians, automotive technicians - that will still require certification and requisite skills as evidenced by performance on entrance exams required for admission to certification programs (click here for more on this).   If the numbers tell a story, about 3 out of every 10 students aren't going there.  And, of those who are, some aren't able to enroll in "ready-for-prime-time" courses because...well, you know why.  This leaves too many kids academically adrift, and they're not even in college.

So, we know that school is a good place to be for students.  We know, too, that there is significant variance in what's expected among and between secondary schools and institutions of higher education.  It also appears that some of this variance leads to problems for kids when they sit for placement tests.  And we know that high school graduates need to move on to some form of meaningful educational experience if they have any chance at meaningful employment in their adult lives.  If they don't, then they wind up in that category call "uneducated" - not much different from those labeled "dropouts".    So, if Common Core is not the answer (and it appears that it isn't), then we need to at least find common ground on what high school graduates should know and be able to do in order for them to be prepared for what's next - to have a realistic chance at being considered among the  "educated". 
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