Friday, July 31, 2009

High School 101: Plan Well to Finish Well (Part II)

Time for Part II. This will wrap up the remains of the notes from my first session.

There are many ways to obtain hours towards high school credit. I highlighted the most popular from the list in my book:
  • Traditional textbooks
  • Primary source documents
  • Literary works
  • Lab experiences
  • Independent study
  • CD/DVD supplemental material
  • Co-curricular activities
  • Travel opportunities
  • Hobbies
  • Tutors
  • Volunteer opportunities (cannot be also counted for community service hours)
  • Apprenticeships or internships
  • On-line classes (FLVS, Thomas Edison College)
  • On-line AP classes (PA Homeschoolers)
  • Dual enrollment (local community colleges)
  • CLEP testing (local testing centers)

In high school, we keep two notebooks: the current year's portfolio and the cumulative folder. In session one I focused on the current year's portfolio. At the beginning of the new school year, I give our high school students a four-inch, three-ring binder stocked with tab dividers and plastic document sleeves. Our students label the tabs with current course titles. As course work is completed, it is our student's responsibility to file papers behind the labeled dividers. Items which are not "three-ring friendly" are placed in protective sleeves. This method is similar to the portfolio I kept for my children in the lower grades. Our students keep their weekly logs (see page 15 in Celebrate High School) in the very front of the portfolio.

The purpose of the portfolio is to verify course content, record the progress of the student, and verify course hours. Work samples vary from course to course. Math samples might include problems from the lessons, scratch work, and tests. Science work samples may include lab reports, assignments, photos of dissections, and tests. Research papers, writing assignments, study guides, magazines articles, interviews, book critiques, theater tickets, and primary source documents are also important. If the student aspires to attend art school, an additional art portfolio may be required for admission.

At the end of the session I explained the similarities and differences of the most common college entrance exams.

The PSAT is a three-part test, offered once a year in October to prepare students for the SAT and determine qualification for National Merit Scholarship. It is not a college entrance exam. Students can sit for the PSAT in their sophomore and junior year, however, the score earned on the PSAT during the junior year determines qualification for National Merit.

The SAT is a three-part test measuring critical reading, mathematics, and writing. Scores on each test range from 200-800. All three parts are taken in the same sitting, however, scores from different sittings can be "mixed and matched" when determining the total score. It is offered seven times a year. Registration is through

SAT Subject Tests are also offered numerous times during the year, but not every test is offered at every sitting. Check the College Board website testing schedule for details. Colleges, especially highly selective universities, may require three to five subject tests in addition to the SAT and ACT. The SAT Subject Tests include: Literature, U.S. History, World History, Mathematics Level I, Mathematics Level II, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and various foreign languages. SAT Subject Tests are taken in eleventh or twelfth grade, but no later than December of the senior year.

The ACT, offered six times a year, is a four-part achievement test measuring knowledge in math, English, reading, and science with an optional timed writing component. Not all colleges require the writing component. Each of the four parts are scored from 1 to 36 and the scores are then averaged to obtain a composite score. The composite score is the score most colleges require.

The College-Level Placement Examination Program (CLEP) enables high school students to complete college-level independent study and earn college credit. Students use CLEP to earn dual enrollment credit for general education classes. Earning CLEP credit can also be a beneficial method of validating the student's ability to complete college-level course work. Students should inquire with their colleges of choice to be sure the credit will be honored. There are thrity-four possible exams. Each exam costs $70, a much cheaper alternative to earning college credit.

I had time for one or two questions at the end of my workshop and then we dismissed for session two. I will post the notes for that session, Getting It On Paper, soon! Check back!

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