What We Have Learned About High School Equivalency

NewsUSA  |  2015-11-24

(NewsUSA) - The past 18 months shook up state education communities preparing students to earn a high school equivalency certificate. With some states dropping the old test for new ones, states choosing to have multiple options, and the implementation of College and Career Ready (CCR) standards, the landscape drastically changed in a short period of time.

Here's what educators and those looking to achieve this educational milestone should know about the past year and a half.

1: 2014 marked the first year in U.S. history that alternative tests were used by states.

Twenty states administered alternative tests after choosing to either drop the GED test within their state or offer multiple tests for students to choose from. The HiSET exam developed by Educational Testing Service and the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion by CTB/McGraw Hill allow those who haven't completed high school the opportunity to earn their high school equivalencies.

Introducing numerous branded tests broke conventional terms and understanding of how people actually go about earning a high school credential.

2: People are learning you don't "get a GED."

Employers, education administrations and institutions of higher education incorrectly ask whether an applicant has his or her "GED." Having proof of a high school credential is essential for many careers and postsecondary education opportunities. However, the GED is a test -- not something earned.

HiSET, GED and TASC scores are mobile, meaning they can be used for employment and college applications throughout the United States. Test takers now have a choice as to what test they choose to take based on various categories such as price or whether the test is available in paper- and/or computer-delivered formats.

3: The results are the same.

All three tests measure high school equivalent skills, and each has implemented CCR standards. Whether one takes the HiSET, GED or TASC test, the end result when passing these tests is the individual earning a state-issued credential. For example, in California, a student can take either test and earn the California High School Equivalency Certificate when passing each test's subject areas.

The trend toward alternative testing shows no signs of slowing as more states consider new test options and vendors in the near future. Options in how one earns a high school credential have changed, but the outcomes are the same -- increasing one's ability to achieve a more secure future by reaching this education milestone.

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Novel Program Brings Hope to African Nation

NewsUSA  |  2015-11-24

(NewsUSA) - For decades, Angola's government has focused on its natural resources as its number one commodity. Now, however, there is a paradigm shift that may have an even greater potential -- the country's young people.

In cooperation with Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), a leading Swiss business school that has recently earned the AACSB International business accreditation, Angola wants to train select students in international business and start a new phase of economic development.

But can the formation of a new financial elite be enough for lasting change in a country that is still inherently poor?

Of course not, says Jose Filament Dos Santos, a representative from the Angolan sovereign wealth fund Fundo Soberano de Angola (FSDEA), which is funding the project. "But we firmly believe that you have to start somewhere, and it's best to get going in an area where it will have a big impact."

Other countries have already seen the benefit of investing in education and a younger generation, but it is no small step for a country whose majority still live in abject poverty.

The focus-shift of the FSDEA, from the investment in real estate to the social sector, justifies Dos Santos with the growing investment interest for years from foreign companies:

"In order to understand and draw up major contracts in international business that will bring in long-term revenues not only for investors, but also for the country and its people, Angola needs experts."

Enter the 'Future Leaders of Angola,' a six-month executive program that offers Angolan students advanced training in management at an international level.

A statement released by the 'Future Leaders of Angola' reads, "We believe [the graduates] will produce a noticeable effect, not least because they will pass on what they have learnt in their future jobs in Angola."

For its part, the university said it sees the course as a chance for students to contribute to an improvement in its citizens' lives.

"In the curriculum, we put a lot of emphasis on topics such as corporate responsibility, compliance and corruption, and give the participants greater awareness of these issues," stresses Daniel Seelhofer, head of the Department of International Business at ZHAW.

While proponents understand the program and the selection of students according to "purely objective criteria" will have its challenges, ultimately it could move the country forward in ways it never thought possible -- until now.

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Fund Your Favorite School One Apple at a Time

NewsUSA  |  2015-11-24

(NewsUSA) - While an apple a day may keep the doctor away, it turns out that this delectable fruit can help students, too.

This month you can aid specific school causes across the nation by taking a bite out of your favorite apple with "Buy an Apple, Help a Student," a fundraising program supported by the U.S. apple industry and other sponsors.

The way it works is this:

Between now and Nov. 15, the U.S. Apple Association, through its Apples for Education program, will feature 12 student causes on Apples4Ed.com. The classroom projects in need of funding range from new school gardens and improved libraries to updated technology, revitalized playgrounds and enhanced resources for teachers. To support one of these causes, all you have to do is follow these four simple steps:

  • Snack. Grab anything apple-related, such as a piece of fruit, juice, applesauce, or any product from one of the program partners, like Marzetti dips and dressings, KIND Snacks, Roth cheese, or Johnsonville sausage.

  • Snap. Take a picture of yourself or others enjoying the snack.

  • Tag. Find a school cause that you would like to support at Apples4Ed.com, tag your photo with the project's name and use the hashtag #Apples4Ed.

  • Share. Vote for your favorite school cause by uploading the photo to Apples4Ed.com or sharing on Instagram. You can vote as often as you like by uploading photos of yourself or others enjoying apples and apple pairings.

For every vote, the U.S. Apple Association and its program partners will pledge financial assistance to nominated projects to help them reach their goals. In addition, participants are eligible to win gift cards and have money donated directly to their selected projects.

In December, USApple will announce the cause with the most votes, which will receive the highest donation. All schools will receive a portion of funding for their respective project.

"We love the time-honored connection between apples and education and wanted to bring it to life with a fun program that lets people turn their daily apples into direct support for important classroom projects nationwide," said Wendy Brannen, USApple director of consumer health and public relations. "With Buy an Apple, Help a Student, enjoying an apple or delicious pairing from our program partners can go a long way in supporting healthy bodies and minds."

For more information, visit www.Apples4Ed.com.

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How to Help Your Child Get Over Math Anxiety

NewsUSA  |  2015-11-24

(NewsUSA) - Were you a math whiz growing up, or did you struggle and feel anxious at the mere mention of math? As a parent, you surely don't want your child to experience the same thing.

"It's easy to help your child not only excel at math but also enjoy it," says Raj Valli, the founder ofTabtor Math, a tablet-based math learning program for K-8 children personalized by a dedicated tutor. "Create a math-friendly environment, make math a playful language and participate in an ongoing dialogue about math."

Valli offers the following advice for helping your child enjoy math.

Create a positive environment around math. Since children model the attitudes of those around them, speak positively about math (even hiding your true feelings). Say encouraging phrases like, "It's really cool that you can use math every day."

Think about math as a language. Because children begin using language when they are very young, they don't feel the same anxiety about reading and writing as they do about math. To transfer this positive attitude over to math, approach math as a language, rather than as a "problem." Count things together, measure things together and talk about the numbers involved in any activity you are doing together. Don't worry too much about getting answers "right" or "wrong." Instead, help them think through the process of using math aloud, in words.

Hold a math "dialogue" centered on everyday activities. Once your child is comfortable with thinking about math in language terms, ask at the supermarket how many cookies are in a package and how your child calculated this answer. She might refer to the size of the package or the size of the cookies inside. Whether right or wrong, it's important to emphasize the process used in her head to make the guess. This gets her thinking about math as a visual subject involving shape and volume, rather than just as numbers in a line.

You might ask an older child how many slices of bread are in a loaf, how thick each slice is and how long the loaf is. Open the package to see how close the estimate was. He will learn to feel comfortable with estimating and will enjoy a conversation with you using math as a focal point.

If you set the stage correctly, you'll find that your child enjoys math more than you did -- and then you can relax and enjoy your child's future success in the classroom.

To learn more, please visit www.tabtor.com.

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(NewsUSA) - What if colleges could predict whether students would drop out of college before they had a chance to? How helpful would this information be in reducing dropout rates and increasing graduation rates?

Well, a new system may be able to help do just that.

"We have identified factors that can be predictors of student success, which gives colleges the ability to flag at-risk students," says Eric Reich of Higher One's Campus Labs platform. "Now, thanks to Higher One's Campus Labs platform, colleges are able to use sophisticated data analysis techniques to understand more about students."

Clues to how students are doing include how often they participate in campus activities (like sporting events or student organizations), how often they use campus services (such as checking in at the financial aid office, career center or computer labs) and how engaged they are with their own course work (providing course feedback or visiting professors during office hours).

All of these actions create data that institutions can capture, and all of these actions have been shown to increase the likelihood of a student to graduate. It makes sense, but only in recent years have schools embraced the technology that can gather and analyze these data so the college can really identify at-risk students and "tweak" their programs to help.

"Using Campus Labs, an advisor can actually detect patterns of students who are not successful and intervene to give them the guidance at the critical time -- before it's too late," says Reich.

Just look at Northern Arizona University, which recently partnered with Higher One to help the University collect data, collaborate across divisions, embrace student assessment and ultimately guide decisions by administrators.

"Freshman outreach has been very successful for us," says Erin Grisham, executive director of educational support service at Northern Arizona. "Students we meet with retain at higher rates than those we don't meet with."

For more information, visit www.higherone.com/campuslabs.

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(NewsUSA) - For most college students, the path to earning credit typically involves several weeks of listening to lectures, taking notes, completing assignments and passing a mid-term and final exam.

But if you could earn that credit in less time and at a fraction of the cost of taking a formal course, would you be interested? There would be no assignments to complete and no lectures or classes to attend, just an exam to pass.

Students looking for a more efficient model to earn a college degree should consider credit-by-exam programs, which have become popular among those who want to accelerate their pace and contain costs.

"Credit-by-exam programs have been used for decades and continue to grow today because they offer real value to students and enable them to complete degree requirements more efficiently than taking traditional courses," noted Marc Singer, vice provost of the Center for the Assessment of Learning at Thomas Edison State College (www.tesc.edu), which recently aligned several of its credit-by-exam programs with open courses to create new pathways for students to earn credit.

Nearly 3,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. accept credit-by-exam as transfer credit. The programs enable students to earn credit by passing a single exam and tend to be a good fit for independent learners, students who possess college-level knowledge and students who are good test takers.

Credit-by-exam programs are not for everyone, especially students who prefer a structured environment and interacting with a professor and fellow students. Deciding to earn college credit by preparing for an exam that covers a semester's worth of content means you have to be self-motivated and disciplined. This approach appeals to many busy adult students who have competing demands on their time and who prefer to work independently.

Two of the most popular credit-by-exam programs in the U.S. are the College-Level Exam Program (CLEP exams) and DSST exams.

"Students considering credit-by-exam programs should talk with their academic advisor to make sure credits from the exam they are planning to take can be transferred to satisfy a requirement in their degree program," said Singer.

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