Monday, March 3, 2014

SAT Day 2014

Baltimore County Public Schools is once again providing all juniors the opportunity to meet a college admissions requirement by giving the SAT in school on April 30.

Instead of leaving it up to students to arrange for transportation and potentially take such an important test in an unfamiliar location, our 11th grade students will take the SAT in their own school, on a regular school day.

This year, the juniors will be registered by the College Board, and test registration tickets will be mailed to the home addresses that we have on file. We just ask that the students bring their admission tickets to their advisory teachers. The admission tickets will be returned to the students on the morning of the test, April 30, because they will need important information that is printed on them.

In order to help students prepare, our English 11 teaching team has already evaluated trends that we saw in the juniors' PSAT scores and developed plans to address common areas of need. Additionally, juniors are advised to use their My College Quickstart codes that were printed on the PSAT score reports and that they accessed in December when PSAT scores were distributed.

The best way to prepare for the SAT, however, is to take full-length practice tests (like this one here). So when we have snow days, or on weekends, and especially during spring break, take a solid four-hour stretch of time to sit and take a practice SAT so that you can get a sense of how much time you should be spending on each question. Remember, on the SAT, you only gain points for correct answers so it makes more sense for your score to go for the answers that you can be sure to have at least a 33% chance of being correct, rather than risk losing 1/4 of a point for guessing.

Because we don't anticipate getting score reports back before the school year ends, it is that much more important for juniors to use Naviance to compare their SAT scores and GPA against the colleges on their prospective college list. Of course, the school counselors are available to discuss reasonable options given our school's historical admissions trends at a number of schools.

Just because the SAT is given in school, however, that does not mean that the SAT is the only test that students should be taking to prepare for college admissions. It is recommended that students who are intending to apply to four-year colleges should take both the SAT and the ACT during their junior year and then use the summer to prepare to re-take whichever test felt more comfortable to them or  on which they had a stronger performance.

Please be sure to use the Grade 11 page on the blog to get some input on what tasks would be helpful and developmentally appropriate at this critical time in your college planning and high school career.

On April 30, make sure you...
Eat dinner the night before
Eat breakfast that morning
Arrive on time for school, as we will start at 7:45 like any other day
Bring your #2 pencils and an approved calculator that you trust
Leave your cell phone in your locker, since cell phones are absolutely prohibited during testing

And in case anyone was wondering, April 30 will continue to be a regular school day for everyone else, even though the underclassmen may find that their classes are temporarily moved to a different classroom.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Anti-Bullying Week 2014

This week will be Anti-Bullying Week.
Thanks to the student leaders in our school system, we have a week full of opportunities to address and learn about positive ways to improve the outlook of everyone in schools and take another step closer to stomping out bullying:
Monday, March 3
Wear ORANGE - The word of the day is UNITY.
Sign the pledge and get a reminder of your pledge.
Tuesday, March 4
Wear GREEN - The word of the day is EMPATHY.
Make a new friend, and sit with someone different at lunch.
Wednesday, March 5
Wear BLUE - The word of the day is KINDNESS.
Write a kind message to or about someone on the "Loving is Louder" banner.
Thursday, March 6
Wear RED - The word of the day is RESPECT.
Tweet positive messages with the hashtag #LovingIsLouder.
Friday, March 7
Wear PURPLE - The word of the day is POSITIVITY.
Discuss ways to keep the positive momentum beyond this week.

Moving forward, please take advantage of these bullying-specific thoughts and resources:
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems
In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:
  • An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
  • Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose. (From
At our school, this type of bullying tends to be experienced among girls who are committing, or being victimized by, relational aggression... or by boys who are directly threatening one another in a traditional sense. Unfortunately, the girls tend to have a hard time honoring their commitments to stop, and the boys are too afraid to stand up and bystanders are unwilling to become upstanders.
Thankfully, at our school, both of these bullying trends are not as pervasive as they are in middle schools everywhere. However, just because this doesn't happen as often as it could does not mean that it's acceptable to happen at all.
We are a community. We all have the same goals - for all students to graduate from high school college and career ready, which includes having the confidence to move forward with our lives, as well as the social skills to feel good about ourselves without putting others down. As a community, we are represented by many different experiences, all of whom are potentially at risk for bullying. High school is not a competition; it is a cooperative effort. Please never hesitate to be an upstander, and always look out for those who may be seeking a connection.

It is imperative that you find your #PHSfit - not just with regard to classes, colleges, careers, and clubs, but also with connections. If something doesn't feel right about a peer group that you are with currently, don't be afraid to stand up for what you believe is right. Focus on what is really important - your future - and people whose values are aligned with yours are sure to come along.

If all else fails, ask yourself any of these questions:
What would my grandmother want me to do in this situation?
What would my ten-years-from-now self want me to do in this situation?
Would my own child be proud of the choice I'm about to make?