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Monday, February 20, 2012

Weeks 24 & 25

General Notes of Interest

  • Student Success Plans (SSP) were recently expanded to include middle school students as mandated by the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE).  School representatives from each of the towns comprising the Region 19 School District met to decide the contents of this plan (grades 6-12) and the most effective way to construct the SSP.  The end result is that now Naviance has reached into the Ashford School, Hall Memorial School, and Mansfield Middle School.  Plans are being developed to begin electronic portfolios for all students in the district.  More information about this collaborative initiative will be released in the weeks ahead.
  • The University of Connecticut released its admissions decisions for the Class of 2016 and the initial conclusion is that it's becoming increasingly more difficult to get an admissions ticket punched.  With an increase in applications over the past few years, spurred by significant improvements on the campus and tuition prices made more attractive with the onset of the Great Recession, the mean SAT scores for admitted students keep rising.  Like it or not, the SAT is a significant factor in the admissions equation, particularly when dealing with the volume of applications that a school like UConn must process.  It appears that a combined score of 1200 in Math and Critical Reading is the benchmark needed.  Of course, small variance around this mean that is offset by a strong transcript will probably suffice as well.  Take note, however.  UConn is no longer the default option when all else fails.
  • The EOS administration extended study hall privileges to ninth-graders who made the honor roll for the first two quarters of the school year.  What this means is that this group of students (112) will be released from monitored study halls and allowed to sign in at the cafeteria or the library media center.  Parental permission is necessary before any schedule changes are made.
  • The initial phase of the course selection process for 2012-13 has been completed for present 9th, 10th, and 11th grade students.  Eighth graders will soon complete this phase as well.  Students and parents/guardians may access Powerschool (Powerscheduler tab) to review their course selections.  Plenty of time remains to make changes.  Counselors will review selections and make recommendations where they see fit.  Students wishing to make changes should contact their counselors. Schedules (with room and teacher assignments) will be finalized in early August.
  • The Naviance Family Connection link has been added to this page.  If you haven't noticed, it's in the upper right corner.
  • UConn Mentor Connection is a unique summer program that provides high school students with the opportunity for hands-on participation in research and creative projects under the supervision of university mentors.  Accomplished university professors and advanced graduate students in over 30 different areas of study work alongside program participants on current research or creative projects in shared areas of interest.  For more information click on UConn Mentor Connection.
  • A Technology Committee has been formed to examine the use of technology in the delivery of instruction.  Comprised of BOE members, administrators, teachers, and students, the objective is to look at ways that teaching and learning may be enhanced with the tools now at our disposal.

A Vision: The College of 2020

The Chronicle of Higher Education Research Services recently released a report that provides a vision of what colleges will look like in the year 2020.  The report is based upon reviews of research and data on trends in higher education, interviews with experts who are sculpting the future paradigm of colleges, and the results of a panel of college admissions personnel that was selected by the Chronicle Research Services.  The defining questions asked were 1) What is college? and 2) Why should I go? The answers reflect a significant shift in the way students envision higher education and how they will wish to pursue a degree.

The following points appeared in the Executive Summary:
  • The traditional model of college is changing, as demonstrated by the proliferation of colleges (particularly for-profit colleges), hybrid class schedules with night and weekend meetings, and, most significantly, online learning.
  • Students' convenience is the future (more students will attend classes online, study part-time, take courses from multiple universities, seek three-year degree programs, and low-cost options).
  • These changes, and the pressure they will put on colleges to adapt, are coming at a particularly acute time (the hour glass-shaped economy of the future will require a college degree as a means of entry and/or advancement in higher-paying, career-oriented professions).
  • Colleges that have resisted putting some of their courses online will almost certainly have to expand their online programs quickly.
  • The conversion to more convenience for students will multiply over the next decade.
  • Colleges will need to offer these options in addition to the face-to-face instruction.
  • Students now going to elementary school are going to expect more connectivity and creativity from colleges.
  • Today's high school students see their educational futures built almost entirely around technology.
Below are three quotes extracted from the report:

"The students of 2020 will demand an education on their terms and will be seeking a technology-based customized approach.  The bottom line is that they will want it all: a plethora of learning options that they can mix and match to play to their strengths."

"The Internet has made most information available to everyone, and faculty members must take that into consideration when teaching. There is very little that students cannot find on their own if they are inspired to do so. And many of them will be surfing the Net in class. The faculty member, therefore, may become less an oracle and more an organizer and guide, someone who adds perspective and context, finds the best articles and research, and sweeps away misconceptions and bad information."

"Good teaching will always be at the core of a good university, but for most colleges, higher education will become a more retail-based industry than it ever has been.  The students of the future will demand it.  Many colleges have a long way to go before they can fulfill that demand."

This, according to the report, is what the 21st century college will look like.  Students (and their parents) will be seeking more affordable options, recognizing the value of higher education while opting for the best value as a return on their investment.  If this is so, and high schools are charged with preparing students for success in higher education, then will high schools have to change as well in order to adapt to this paradigm shift at the college level?  And is this what it means when reference is made to developing 21st century skills?  Will standards be compromised if they are adapted to meet the needs/demands of students?  Or will any change in standards simply reflect more compatibility with life in the 21st century?  Is there a more cost effective way of conducting the business of education - of providing an enriching learning experience?  And if these changes are made, will they reduce the role that teachers presently play in the process (oracle) or, instead, change the role to fit a new model (guide an organizer)?  These are just some of the questions being addressed by the Technology Committee.

An article appearing in the New York Time (11/21/10) entitled Growing Up Digital: Wired for Distraction" may provide a perspective on the challenges that these new forms of technology pose.  And Digital Learning: What Kids Really Want may inform us as well.

Check Out New Links Added

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College Aid Advice From Ivy League Expert

Dates of Interest

EOS Counselors Visit Hall Memorial School
Thursday, March 8 @ 9 AM

EOS Transition for Parents of 8th Graders
Thursday, March 8 @ 6:30 PM
Hall Memorial School

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