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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Week Fifteen Notes

PSAT Index  - A Measure of Achievement

Unless you've been living on Easy Street these past couple of years, you know all about the Great Recession and the attendant Great Debate that ensued on how to fix it.  One thing is painfully clear - it's not fixed yet.  All of the economic measures - the Dow Jones, S & P 500, Russell 2000, NASDAQ - show wildly inconsistent behavior and hardly any sustainable gains to get excited about.  Education, like the economy, has its own measures of "health" and productivity (otherwise known as achievement) with acronyms like CMT, CAPT, SAT, ACT, ED 540 (wait, what? - we'll save this one for next week), and the PSAT.  Using the last "index", EOSHS' stock price was recently revealed by The College Board and, unlike the national picture depicting the economy (or education in many parts, for that matter), this landscape appears pretty attractive.  Here's why.

About 200 students sat for the PSAT (stands for Preliminary SAT...which used to stand for Scholastic Aptitude Test and then the Scholastic Assessment Test - aptitude sounded too much like an intelligence test, which it wasn't supposed to be, so they dumped it for assessment - until The College Board, in its infinite wisdom, decided to once-and-for-all kill the controversy over the scarlet letter "A" and now simply calls its bread and butter the S A T) back in October and the recently released scores show impressive results, especially when these scores are held up against national averages.  Take a look;

Average Critical Reading score for EOS students is 570
while the national average is 478.

Average Math score for EOS students is 557
while the national average is 485.

Average Writing score for EOS students is 538
while the national average is 457.

Pretty impressive, no?  If you look at this "economically", then EOS is far outpacing the national index - as measured by the PSAT.  In this view, EOS looks like a wise investment.  The benchmark, by the way, as set by The College Board after statistical adjustments made over a decade ago, is 500 in each sub test.  So, while the rest of the nation as a whole is under performing (at least by this measure), EOS is achieving (The College Board shouldn't deny this word) well above the benchmark.

If only the national economy could follow suit...

By the way, individual student score reports along with test booklets were mailed home last week  to each student who took the PSAT in October.  Counselors will review these reports with students in the weeks ahead.  But, in the meantime, students and parents may click on the tutorials posted to the right of this page for more information about how to make sense of the student reports.  These are power point presentations, so be sure to click the screen in order to make it through the sequence. In addition, a tutorial on My College QuickStart has been posted.  This is an on-line feature offered by The College Board to test-takers that they may find helpful for reasons they'll need to discover.  And, believe it or not, the program is actually free.

Housing Bubble 2.0

Money, money ,money...seems like that's the theme this week.  We all know that the burst of the housing bubble helped to trigger the economic collapse.  When the bubble burst so did the dreams of  many individuals.  For better or for worse, the American Dream has gone 2.0 on  many of us, according to American Dream Deferred: We Now Embrace More Modest, Personal Goals.  And, of course, we all know about the frequently professed relationship between higher education and a middle-class lifestyle.  What gives?

What's finally gotten the attention of many, including President Obama (check out this NY Times piece), is the outlandishly escalating costs of higher education.  For many schools ,the cost for attending resembles the purchase price of a modest ranch...overlooking the water.  For many who choose these schools, they eventually sink under this water - drowning in debt.  College costs have now become Housing Bubble 2.0, with many schools pricing themselves out of the reach of middle-class families.  And, as if it's not already daunting enough, many experts (and "non"-experts, too) are now calling into question the value of a college diploma against its costs (see Employers Say College Graduates Lack Job Skills and, to cause confusion, Bachelor's Degree Still Best Path to Middle-Class Earnings).  Who's right?  It depends.

It depends upon what you're looking for.  Whatever it is, you definitely don't want a meagre, are-you-kidding-me!!! financial aid package if you can avoid it.  So, you need to do your homework.  There are several financial aid links posted at the bottom of this page that are designed to provide helpful information.  College credit courses offered at EOSHS aside, families can reduce the costs of higher education without compromising value.  How? 

It takes time and effort to figure this out.  Unfortunately, there isn't a getafreecollegeeducation.com web site available - or, at least, not a legitimate one. But there is some good news is - colleges, somewhat reluctantly, have been told by the federal government to "open their books" on net costs.  In other words, each school is now required to post on its web site a cost calculator that students (really, parents) can use to determine what it will really cost them in the end.  So, it's kind of like a no-hassle-car-purchase approach.  You just have to take the time to see where this purchase will take you (for some help, check out "Degrees by Debt" under "Articles of Interest")..

And check out this website...College Goals Sunday...for more information about a program being offered at ECSU on January 29th.  Help is available.  It's on you to seek it out!

Wanting to Write Without Wanting to Read Is Like Wanting to _____Without Wanting to____

You may recall a recent post that addressed the issue of reading and its relationship to writing.  Readers were asked to offer their own view of this relationship by completing the following...reading is to writing as ________is to ________.  Can't say there were many offerings.  Oh well.  Here's a sampling of what was offered.  "Reading is to writing as breathing is to living"..."music theory is to singing"...

If you're interested, here's the original article - Writing Without Reading Is Like___

And if you've had enough by now, count the aforementioned as this week's Article of Interest.

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