Academic Success Starts at Home

By Ronnie Phillips

How many times have we blamed the educational system for not providing a quality education for our children? We often find something negative in the school system to complain about when it comes to our children's education. We complain about how teachers aren't challenging the children enough, the school is using old books to educate our children, our children are scoring low on standardized tests, the material being taught is not relevant, our children need more individual attention, the school needs better teachers and principals, the class has too many students so our children can't learn, or our children have too many hard classes in the morning-the list goes on. Let's stop a minute and ask whether the teacher or the school is entirely to blame for our children not getting a good education.

We live in a society that tends to blame someone else for the problems we face in society. Yes, our schools and teachers do have a responsibility to provide a good education for our children. But let's look at a few facts about who spends the most time with our children and who is our children's first teacher. When children are born, the parents have the responsibility of building their educational foundation. In other words, parents are their children's first teacher, starting when the day the child is born or even while the child is still in the mother's belly.

Some parents look forward to providing a strong educational foundation for their children from day one. These parents read to their children from an early age and even before the child is born. These parents provide as many educational opportunities for their children as possible long before their children start kindergarten, and this process doesn't stop when the children start school. These parents are involved with their children's education throughout their entire academic journey. Research tells us that these children generally have a positive educational experience, with academic success being almost guaranteed.

Yet just as many parents-or maybe more-don't spend a lot of time preparing their children for their future educational journey. There are many reasons this could be happening to parents, such as busy jobs, not enough time in the day, and parents' belief that the school should do all the educating. Whatever the reason, these children are being cheated because of their parents' lack of preparation and support. These parents don't understand that children spend the first five years of their lives at home, which is one of the most important times to start building their children's educational foundation. If nothing is being done during those years, the children fall behind in their educational development, and when they start school, they already lag behind their peers. As a result, teachers must work harder because these children require more attention, which takes away time from students whose parents prepared them for kindergarten.

When students start kindergarten behind their peers, they are subject to develop behavioral or social problems because they are academically behind other children of the same age. This is a major problem for the teachers, schools, and our education system as a whole. As more students start behind, more resources are needed to bring them up to the grade level. Bringing students up to the appropriate grade level is very difficult and could take several years. Who is the blame for this problem?

Instead of blaming someone, I believe that we as a society should try to do something about this situation. Although we can't require all parents to be more involved with their children's education, perhaps we can start by putting together some guidelines for what successful parents do with their children and providing workshops for parents all over the country to ensure that they understand the importance of providing an educational foundation for their children. I believe parents would do better if they knew better. Our society can do several things to ensure that parents are aware of the importance of parents' involvement in the success of their children. Getting that information into the hands of our parents and providing the support needed for their success could improve our entire educational system. The time to start is now.

Even Though You Have To Stay In - Learn-Read-Keep Those Books Open. No One Can Help You But Yourself!

What Are The Reasons Of Getting A Low Score On The ACT?

By Winnie Custodio

Sometimes, intelligent students think that they have it for the ACT as well. But surprisingly, they get a low score on this standardized test. Have you experienced the same?

Smart students scoring low on the ACT happens quite a lot. It is in fact a common problem. However, there are ways to avoid it, such as by using the most effective test prep techniques. You can maintain your excellent performance in the classroom and the ACT if you apply the right strategies. The first thing that you ought to do is to understand the reasons why some high achievers in class obtain a low score on the ACT.

The tendency of many intelligent students is to get complacent, thinking that the ACT is merely the same as the usual tests that they take in school. Then again, this is not the case. Why?

Multiple subjects are included in the exam. When you take the ACT, you'll take a comprehensive exam that covers Math, Science, Literature and Writing. Whereas in the classroom, if you're going to tackle a Math test, all you have to do is study for Math. That's why studying for the ACT is more rigorous, and you have to engage on an effectual review program before taking it. A test prep routine for the ACT tends to be more challenging and time-consuming.

There is a time limit to follow when taking every section in the test. Time pressure when dealing with the ACT can be overwhelming. It can cause test anxiety that results to poor performance and low ACT scores.

You'll encounter test questions and answer options that can be misleading.Test-takers ought to be meticulous and wary because there are items in the ACT that could fool them. You may think that you've marked the right bubble, but it is actually erroneous. It's not the same as the typically straightforward tests that you take in high school.

Expectations are high when tackling the ACT. This could be distressing to numerous students. As an important standardized test, your score in the ACT will dictate whether you'll gain admission to a high quality college or otherwise. Because of this, you might push yourself too hard, and the frustration that you feel might lead to a low score.

Different Problem Scenarios About the ACT and How To Resolve Them

Scenario # 1

You might be using the wrong study methods. How was your ACT prep? Have you done it effectively and with a sufficient amount of time? Come the day of taking the test, you might have answered all the questions within the time limit. You had no worries about test anxiety, either. Things seemed to be looking up, but you were disappointed when your score report came. You got a low ACT score! Why did this happen?

The Resolution:

There are many cases of students having studied for an ample time before taking the ACT, but upon getting the results, they were aghast to get a low score. A Math whiz in the classroom may not always ace the ACT Math test. This section of the ACT usually covers more topics, requiring more skills and knowledge. Consider as well that the phrasing of some questions and answer selections in the test can be tricky. Try changing your studying approach for your retake. Take note that the common ways of studying for a test in the classroom may not suffice when prepping for the ACT.

For instance, take more ACT practice tests. Research has shown that a good study program should comprise 30% of practice testing. Practice tests can acclimatize you to the format and approach of the ACT, consequently boosting your confidence and eliminating test anxiety.

Scenario #2

You were overconfident, and studied insufficiently for the exam. Intelligent students are predilected to ace their tests in the classroom. They may think that the ACT is as easy as their typical high school tests, thus they prepared haphazardly for it. Nevertheless, they get a low score in the ACT.

The Resolution:

Be aware that the ACT is different from the customary tests that you deal with in high school. If you're not used its approach, you might get confused. The creators of the ACT have designed their test to measure students' skills and knowledge. They therefore sprinkled it with a good dose of tricky and misleading items. Succumbing to it can ultimately result to a low score.

Practice as much as you can to combat this phenomenon. Schedule your ACT take or retake so that you get enough time to study for it. Preferably a few months. Arrange a routine study schedule utilizing credible and effective online and offline test prep resources. It is particularly crucial to take ACT practice tests regularly. Three or four practice tests throughout your whole test prep period could suffice in conditioning you to tackle the format and structure of the test. Be sure to review your wrong answers and decipher why you missed them. Know your weak points and build on them so that you'll be ready and able to take the ACT despite its intricacies.

Passing the GED® test can be hard. That's why we're here to help. At GED® Study Guide, we have tons of free resources to help you study. We have everything from practice tests, video lessons, online courses and a thriving community of students just like YOU.

Preparing for Lesson One With a New High School Class

By Richard D Boyce

As head of Mathematics in a large high school, each year young, inexperienced teachers, often in their first year in the classroom would be appointed to my school. It was my responsibility to induct them into my department and guide them through the beginnings of their career. Below is the advice I would give them to help them start with their new classes to give their students that they were experienced rather than novice teachers.

The first lesson with a new class, even for the experienced teacher, set the tone of the class at least for the first few weeks.

So below is what a teacher needs to organize and do in their first lesson at the start of the year.

Prior Preparation:

- Class list ruled up as a period roll;

- A starting activity;

- Room plan for a seating plan if you are not using the alphabetical plan;

- Work outline for each student plus extras for students not on the roll;

- Assessment schedule;

- List of students with special needs;

- Your tote box with teaching needs including pencils;

- Organize the room the way you need it for each class.

- Texts, handouts for this lesson;

- Check out the students' record cards beforehand. Make notes about issues re students. Make an
             effort to put a face to a name in Lesson one.

- Photos of each student, if possible, from school records;

- Plan the whole lesson. Have an activity that all students can do.

- Have a list of all you need to do. Make sure you have extra activities to do to fill the time.

- A short, fun activity at the lesson's end.

Divide your plan into a generic plan that fits all the lessons. Then ensure that you have separate files of information for each class you will see on the first day. Then you'll be ready to start the year off "on the right note".

Our author, a secondary teacher of over forty years, often advised many trainee and new teachers especially during his years as head of Mathematics department. He has written many books on teaching at the chalk face. These are available by emailing for further information.


A Right To Data Is Meaningless Without Knowledge Of What Is Available

By Jeff C. Palmer

We agree with the statement that "a right to data is meaningless without knowledge of what is available" and with the proposals to create a central, user-friendly catalogue or inventory of all the information available. We think that this should:

- Include information of what is available not only in central government datasets but also in those of more fragmented organizations such as local authorities or the police to allow comparisons.

- Be easily searchable with common sense terms.

- Include notes on the freshness of the data and how regularly users can expect it to be updated (i.e. is it one-off, published quarterly - including the next publication date)

- Include links to other, related, data sets if it is part of a historical data series (or with other breakdowns such as regions or relevant agencies)

- Be presented in a user-friendly format as well as in raw format, where possible - including star rating of accessibility.

- Allow user feedback, ranking interest/value of datasets and opportunities to post relevant applications based on the data. Using such approaches can help make the data inventories self-regulating and cut down on the effort required to manage and maintain them.

The Government may also wish to highlight, signpost or even implement visualization tools in order to encourage less-experienced users to access and manipulate the information.

At a high level, individuals (by which we mean in particular the specialist developer group) will comply if the standards are sensible, cost of compliance is low, and compliance itself does not cause further interoperability problems. A useful step would be to encourage consistent schemas for particular data sets (for example bus timetables) and to ensure they are interoperable with other, related sets (for example train timetables). We recommend clear lists of the schemas with links to their definition should be published on the same website as the catalogue. In addition, consistent master data across all relevant Government datasets (for example around the naming of hospitals or stations) would be helpful as it will aid navigability, usability and interoperability. Another step to increase usability would be to ensure that key data sets are available (and made easy to interrogate in a programmatic fashion) on government servers as well as for download. This makes the building of mobile phone applications, for example, much easier when the information is regularly updated and means that individual users do not have to download the entire data set. It is appreciated that the cost of supporting such a service may require restrictions on the quantity of queries that can be made by an individual service; this might be addressed by the use of a private API key for each service user in a similar fashion to Google Maps. In addition, we would suggest that the government adopts and communicates to employees clear information governance measures in order to achieve compliance and to ensure usability and interoperability. Based on our experience of working with public and private organizations service we have developed information governance frameworks that can be applied to US public services and the open data agenda. The information governance framework examines measures to maintain the privacy, confidentiality, security, quality and integrity of data. Two of these areas are of particular relevance to achieving usability and interoperability:

1. Rigorous data hygiene standards should be adopted to improve data quality. Ensuring data quality is a major challenge-particularly in complex, environments with multiple IT systems not all of which share common technical, data, communication or terminology standards. The key to ensuring data quality in these environments is to develop standardized interfaces and models that allow IT subsystems to share information effectively. Effective system architectures should include for key components:

- Manual and automatic processes that detect and correct errors in information efficiently and effectively. Emphasis should be placed on incentivizing and motivating public service professionals to understand the implications of poor data quality and to change behavior to enhance data quality over time.

- Validation rules that verify that data conforms to a set of specifications regarding format, quality, integrity, accuracy and structure.

- Use open standards for the recording and coding of data to promote a high level of data quality through similar data processing across multiple component systems.

2. Quality data must preserve its integrity when stored, transferred or retrieved. Unauthorized modification of data, poor-quality source code and non-interoperable subsystems all undermine data integrity and thus the open data agenda. Effective information governance architectures to maintain data integrity should include:

- Processes to test source code to eliminate bugs (that may result in data loss or data corruption);

- Processes that identify and mitigate security risks;

- A governance function that works across silos to develop and enforce common standards, protocols and processes to enable syntactic, semantic and/or process interoperability;

- A standards-driven system architecture conforms to open or common messaging, infrastructure, communication, application, data and clinical terminology standards.

Standards should be established to ensure that the data gathered is consistent and easily comparable between agencies, public service providers and departments. It would also be worth considering the feasibility of synchronizing the dates when the data is refreshed to ensure consistency for further comparisons.

Given the current Freedom of Information requirements, public service providers already balance a commitment to openness with a need to respect privacy and security. We believe many of the same principles can be followed to ensure a commitment to open data.

There are three main areas where we would expect government to collect and publish data on a routine basis - in particular where the publication:

- Improves outcomes and increases the productivity of public service providers through informed comparison;

- Supports the choice agenda - by informing citizens of different providers and alternative services thus underpinning market;

- Makes accountability real for citizens and encourages greater engagement with public services and government.

We think the most important thing government can do to stimulate the market for open data is to make the data itself more consumable and accessible. Data is most useful to the citizen when it tells a story and is meaningful. By investing limited resources to transform from "data" into "intelligence" the Government can lead by example and show the potential of data sets. It will also help inspire entrepreneurs to explore potential uses of public data for commercial benefit, thus driving economic growth. It may also be worth going a step further and transforming a few crucial datasets into data-mashed "services" by making them very easily consumable. This will help establish a market and stimulate demand for further publication of datasets.

Jeff C. Palmer is a teacher, success coach, trainer, Certified Master of Web Copywriting and founder of Jeff is a prolific writer, Senior Research Associate and Infopreneur having written many eBooks, articles and special reports.


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