Saturday, December 01, 2007

Test Dates: 2008-2009

Having a clear test preparation plan is crucial in achieving success on major standardized tests like the SAT, SAT Subjects Tests, ACT, PSAT, SSAT, and HSPT.

Testing dates scheduled during the 2008-2009 school year have now been released for most of these tests.

As soon as possible, select the test dates that work best from the list below, and arrange your plans accordingly.

For further information about a particular test, click the "more information" link provided at the end of the appropriate list of dates, below.

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ACT Dates: 2008-2009

9/13/08

10/25/08

12/13/08

2/7/09

4/4/09

6/13/09

See the ACT web site for registration details (plan to register at least one month in advance).

Click here for more information.

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HSPT Dates: 2008-2009

Test dates vary. The most common dates are in the fall and spring.

Contact high school admissions departments to confirm test and registration dates.

Click here for more information.

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PSAT Dates: 2008-2009

10/15/08 or 10/18/08

10/14/09 or 10/17/09

Contact the student's high school to confirm test and registration dates (plan to register at least one month in advance).

Click here for more information.

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SAT Dates: 2008-2009

10/4/08

11/1/08

12/6/08

1/24/09

3/14/09

5/2/09

6/6/09

See the College Board web site for registration details (plan to register at least one month in advance).

Click here for more information.

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SAT Subject Test Dates: 2008-2009

10/4/08

11/1/08

12/6/08

1/24/09

5/2/09

6/6/09

See the College Board web site for registration details (plan to register at least one month in advance).

Click here for more information.

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SSAT Dates: 2008-2009

10/11/08

11/8/08

12/13/08

1/10/09

2/7/09

3/7/09

4/18/09

6/13/09

See the SSAT web site for registration details (plan to register at least one month in advance).

Click here for more information.

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Copyright © 2006-present: Christopher R. Borland. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Are Teaching And Learning Gender-Neutral?

However politically incorrect it may be to say so, it appears that research is confirming yet again the important, innate role played by gender in human socialization and development – this time in an educational context, specifically, in the effect gender has upon essential classroom learning dynamics.

An Associated Press story published on August 28, 2006 discussed the controversial findings of a recent study concerning the effect of gender on teaching and learning.

Here's the introduction:
“For all the differences between the sexes, here's one that might stir up debate in the teacher's lounge: Boys learn more from men and girls learn more from women.

That's the upshot of a study by Thomas Dee, an associate professor of economics at Swarthmore College and visiting scholar at Stanford University. His study was to appear today in Education Next, a quarterly journal published by the Hoover Institution.”

For the complete text of the article, click here.

My two cents:

There is, in fact, a clear advantage to same gender instruction. It's common sense that most teenagers will be less distracted in such an environment, and, without the pressure to impress the opposite sex, more comfortable and therefore more open and able to learn. In general, instructors also experience enhanced rapport and ease with students of the same gender. Males and females have significant, innate differences in the way they perceive and communicate; recently discovered gender-based adaptations in brain physiology underscore these important distinctions. To deny these critical differences is to ignore reality – and this is certainly no way to effectively refine either pedagogy or educational policy.

It's a terrible fact that, in America today, we are fast losing the educational race. It's time to take a very serious look at anything and everything that could have a marked impact on the quality, discipline, and productivity of our public schools, including single sex education, school uniforms, et al. The time has long since passed for us to choose, as individuals and as a nation, between the nonsense of political correctness and the imperative of bona fide excellence in education.

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Copyright © 2006-present: Christopher R. Borland. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Marin Magazine Interview

I was recently interviewed as one of three specialists for an article by writer Samantha Bronson titled: "Higher Education: Marin College Prep Experts Give Advice."

In her piece appearing in the August 2007 edition of Marin Magazine, Bronson addresses important questions that are perennially on the minds of parents of college-bound children.

"Getting into college these days is tougher than ever. Because standards are higher and competition is fierce, a child’s preparation for the college admissions game must begin at an early age.

How do parents ensure their kids are making the most of their educational opportunities? How can students raise their chances of getting into the college they want ... ? Are good grades and test scores enough? What else matters?"

For the feature, Bronson also interviewed Dave Denman of Denman Associates in Sausalito, California (415-332-1831). Dave is a long-time colleague of mine, and one of the top educational consultants in the nation.

To read the entire article, click here.

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Copyright © 2006-present: Christopher R. Borland. All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Great Teachers Left Behind

One would think a doctorate in classics from Harvard, decades of teaching experience at the high school and college levels, and demonstrably superior results in the classroom would qualify one to teach Latin in California high schools under guidelines imposed by "No Child Left Behind" legislation drafted and passed into law with such fanfare by the Bush administration several years ago.

But no.

Jefferds Huyck and other master teachers like him are not "highly qualified" according to education officials' interpretation of the NCLB law.

Apparently, "No Child Left Behind" really means that all teachers and students in our public schools will now have to sink to the same level of mediocrity.

What's wrong with this picture?

Everything.

If a man like Mr. Huyck isn't deemed highly qualified to teach in the public school system until and unless he spends $15,000 and two years in a teaching school with freshman undergrads learning how to craft their first lesson plans, it's rather the politicians and bureaucrats who've required his dismissal that are unqualified and ought to be swiftly replaced.

A recent article in the New York Times gives all the details.

Read all about it, right here.

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Copyright © 2006-present: Christopher R. Borland. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

ACT To Take Over As Top Test?

Is the tide at long last turning in the test wars? Will the ACT or the SAT2's overtake the number one spot from the SAT? Will the SAT finally go bye-bye?

Good grief ... let's hope so.

The SAT, now 80 years old, has already outlived its usefulness, and its welcome, on many if not most college campuses today. During the past 30 years, the SAT has been picked to pieces over charges of gender and racial bias, shown to be a poor predictor of success in college (the SAT's "raison d’être") and exposed as a seriously flawed and very coachable test by companies like the Princeton Review and others. Despite three desperate attempts in the last two decades to "improve" the SAT, complaints from students and parents continue to increase, bad news and reviews from school administrators, university admissions departments, and others in the education community cascade daily onto newspaper pages across the country, and everywhere people are wondering why we're all still chasing this bus.

The SAT2 tests, formerly called the Achievement Tests, along with the ACT, are top contenders to move into the prime testing territory formerly monopolized by SAT. Each of these challengers has its strengths, but either is a much better assessment tool than the SAT and could easily step into the vacuum formed by its impending extinction.

In Newsweek's August 21, 2006 issue, the magazine took a look at the ACT and it's threat to push the SAT clear out of the nest of college entrance tests. It's an excellent article, very informative, entirely interesting reading, and highly recommended for further information on this subject.

Read the full article here:

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Copyright © 2006-present: Christopher R. Borland. All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Rumor Has It

Wondering if there really ARE alligators living in the New York City sewers?

Ever wanted to check out the latest outlandish urban rumors?

Here's the only site you'll need to fact check a wild one you just heard, or find some amusement on an otherwise slow day:

http://www.snopes.com/

Enjoy!

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Copyright © 2006-present: Christopher R. Borland. All rights reserved.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Dalai Lama Appointed To Emory Chairmanship

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual and cultural leader of the Tibetan people and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, will begin his new life as a Presidential Distinguished Professor at Atlanta's Emory University when he begins lecturing there this coming October.

Part of the Emory-Tibet Partnership that aims to "provide a solid basis for [a] joint quest to explore the frontiers of knowledge" by engaging in a "genuine two-way exchange of people and ideas that encompasses the areas of culture, philosophy, religion, science and health ...," the Dalai Lama's appointment crowns on a cooperative effort that goes back several years before the partnership between Emory University and Drepung Loseling Monastery was officially established in 1998.

The shared dream of His Holiness and Emory Dean Dr. Robert Paul first envisioned in 1991 is a "vision of bridging two worlds for the benefit of humanity."

A recent article in The Guardian gives further details.

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Copyright © 2006-present: Christopher R. Borland. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Cheney Invitation Inspires Ire At BYU

Those of us Baby Boomers who hear about "student protests" and "campus sit-ins" instantly recall the political demonstrations made famous during the 1960's free speech movement on liberal campuses like U.C. Berkeley, S.F. State, and others. Long-haired, tie-dye wearing hippy dudes in V.W. vans blasting protest music and picking up like-minded hitch-hikers on the way to anti-war marches come quickly to mind.

Times have changed.

This time, it wasn't liberal coastal campuses hosting large anti-establishment rallies, sit-ins, and sign-waving, anti-government dissent. No, no. This time, it was Brigham Young University (BYU), perhaps the nation's most conservative college, the reddest campus in the reddest state in America.

At the Mormon University owned and operated by the LDS church, public protest and dissent are rare. Unity, propriety, and pro-Americanism have always been the norm there, where any serious opposition to leaders of the Republican Party tends to raise disapproving eye brows. Nevertheless, open protests by students and faculty at BYU erupted recently over the decision to invite Vice President Dick Cheney to be this year's BYU commencement speaker (Cheney spoke at BYU on 4/26/07).

Despite the fact that nearly all of the student and faculty at BYU are strong conservatives, and the vast majority registered Republicans, many at BYU feel that Cheney's personal behavior and governmental policies do not at all reflect the traditional Christian/American values (honesty, fairness, integrity, freedom from debt, respect for the Bill of Rights, clean language, etc.) taught at the University and in the LDS church.

From a recent New York Times article:
“The problem is this is a morally dubious man,” said Andrew Christensen, a 22-year-old Republican from Salt Lake City. “It’s challenging the morality and integrity of this institution."

In restrained campus demonstrations on 4/4/07 and again on 4/26/07, several hundred BYU students, faculty, and staff protested Cheney's speech. An "alternative commencement" in neighboring Orem, Utah was miraculously funded and produced at the last minute (despite active local opposition) featuring Ralph Nader as speaker, and more than 3800 LDS members signed an online petition in opposition to the Cheney invitation.

Read the entire article here.

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Copyright © 2006-present: Christopher R. Borland. All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

This Sentence Is False. True Or false? (Conclusion)

For convenience, I’ll repeat the sentence in question, immediately below this one.

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This sentence is false.

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The sentence in bold-face immediately above this one is not true, and is not false. It is “undecidable,” and has no “truth value.” The reason is rooted in its self-referential nature.

Here it is:

According to classical Aristotelian logic, what we call “common sense,” a statement cannot be both true and false. It must be one or the other.

If the sentence we’re considering is true, then it is false (after all, that’s what it directly states, that it is a false sentence). It's impossible for a sentence to be both true and false, and so we can rule out the possibility that the sentence is true.

So, the sentence in question must be false (which aside from "true," our initial assumption, is the only remaining alternative).

However, the sentence in question cannot be false either. If the sentence is false, then it is a lie, and the opposite of what it states must in fact be true. Since the sentence in question states that it is a false sentence, the opposite must in fact be the case – i.e. the sentence must be true. Again, no statement can be false AND true, so we must also throw out the possibility that the sentence in question is false.

The sentence in question is therefore demonstrably not true AND also not false – according the rules of “common sense” logic.

Weird. Apparently, logic is sometimes illogical (another strangely self-referential idea)!

If you like this kind of thing, you’ll love Hofstadter’s book (see part 1 of this investigation, here). However, be forewarned. It’s easily the "thickest” book I’ve ever attempted to read. I’m not just referring here to the length of this prodigious tome, but mainly to the difficulty of grappling with the ideas presented within it. Reading that book is like trying to step on your right foot with your right foot, nearly every page of it! It’s about radical, "outside the box" observation and expansion of the human mind – literally thinking hard about thinking hard. An intellectual challenge of the first order, this meta-logical journey will be truly maddening for most mere mortals, but is a sublimely rewarding experience for those brave and stout enough to make the trip.

For further study or additional masochism, try a google search on “self reference” or “fuzzy logic.”

Good luck!

(Click here to go to Part 1.)

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Copyright © 2006-present: Christopher R. Borland. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Harvard Chooses Female Head

It only took 371 years, 27 previous presidents, and a LOT of coaxing, but Harvard finally has a woman as top banana.

Ms. Drew Faust, a Civil War historian, will take the place of discredited former head Lawrence Summers, who left as Harvard's head amid contentious relationships with faculty and after making controversial remarks about the inherent inability of women to do world-class research in the sciences.

With seven U.S. presidents as alumni, and over 40 Nobel Prize winners on its cumulative list of faculty members, Harvard occupies a singular place in the roster of great American universities, and Faust's appointment is sending a powerful shockwave throughout academia in this country and within the iconic institution itself.

From a recent Washington Post article:

"Harvard is making a statement at a critical time when we are seeing student bodies [at many schools] that are well over 50 percent women," said Claire van Ummersen, director of the Office of Women in Higher Education at the American Council on Education. "We see women faculty increasing in number, and the place where we have lagged most is in research institutions having women at the executive level. . . . Hopefully, this will have some influence on boards of trustees or overseers of other institutions."

Faust's selection comes as Harvard moves to modernize its more than 30-year-old undergraduate curriculum, a move that's being closely watched by institutes of higher education throughout the U.S.

Read the rest of the article here.

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Copyright © 2006-present: Christopher R. Borland. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Test Dates: 2007-2008

Having a clear test preparation plan is crucial in achieving success on major standardized tests like the SAT, SAT2, ACT, PSAT, SSAT, and HSPT.

Testing dates scheduled during the 2007-2008 school year have now been released for most of these tests.

It's time to select the test dates that work best from the list below, and arrange your plans accordingly.

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ACT Dates: 2007-2008

6/9/07 (Registration: 5/4/07; late registration: 5/18/07.)

9/15/07 (Registration: 8/10/07; late registration: 8/24/07.)

10/27/07 (Registration: 9/21/07; late registration: 10/5/07.)

12/8/07 (Registration: 11/2/07; late registration: 11/15/07.)

2/9/08 (Registration: 1/4/08; late registration: 1/18/08.)

4/12/08 (Registration: 3/7/08; late registration: 3/21/08.)

6/14/08 (Registration: 5/9/08; late registration: 5/23/08.)

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HSPT Dates: 2007-2008

Test dates vary. The most common dates are in the fall and spring.

Contact high school admissions departments to confirm test and registration dates.

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PSAT Dates: 2007-2008

10/17/07 or 10/20/07

Contact high school to confirm test and registration dates.

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SAT Dates: 2007-2008

10/6/07 (Registration: 9/10/07; late registration: 9/14/07.)

11/3/07 (Registration: 10/2/07; late registration: 10/11/07.)

12/1/07 (Registration: 10/30/07; late registration: 11/8/07.)

1/26/08 (Registration: 12/26/07; late registration: 1/4/08.)

3/1/08 (Registration: 1/29/08; late registration: 2/7/08.)

5/3/08 (Registration: 4/1/08; late registration: 4/10/08.)

6/7/08 (Registration: 5/6/08; late registration: 5/15/08.)

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SAT2 Dates: 2007-2008

10/6/07 (Registration: 9/10/07; late registration: 9/14/07.)

11/3/07 (Registration: 10/2/07; late registration: 10/11/07.)

12/1/07 (Registration: 10/30/07; late registration: 11/8/07.)

1/26/08 (Registration: 12/26/07; late registration: 1/4/08.)

5/3/08 (Registration: 4/1/08; late registration: 4/10/08.)

6/7/08 (Registration: 5/6/08; late registration: 5/15/08.)

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SSAT Dates: 2007-2008

10/18/07

11/10/07

12/8/07

1/12/08

2/9/08

3/8/08

4/12/08

6/14/08

(Registration and late registration dates to be announced.)

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Copyright © 2006-present: Christopher R. Borland. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Biggest SAT Score Dip In 31 Years

Are recently released national score results an anomaly, or further evidence that the SAT is a on the way out?

My vote is with the latter conclusion.

Ever since the Princeton Review and others began to expose the glaring weaknesses and basic uselessness of the SAT as an assessment of “college readiness” two decades ago, this dinosaur of the standardized testing universe has been racing toward extinction at an ever-increasing pace.

The administrators of the SAT1 recently debuted another major rewrite of the test (the third such revision in approximately 20 years undertaken) out of frustration with truth tellers like the Princeton Review and desperation caused by threats from the likes of U.C. Berkeley and others to drop the SAT from their admission requirements.

There’s still a bit of life in the old beast ... but the writing is on the wall. I give the SAT around 10 years to go the way of the Dodo. We shall see.

A Washington Post article begins:

“The first national results from the revamped SAT show the biggest annual drop in reading scores in 31 years and a significant edge for female students over males on the new writing section of the test, the College Board reported yesterday.

The report on SAT scores for the high school Class of 2006 illuminated how the introduction of the writing section – including a much-dreaded essay question – and revisions to the mathematics and reading sections have changed an assessment tool still used for admissions by most colleges and universities.”

For the complete text of the article, click here.

Another article on the same news item is found here.

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Copyright © 2006-present: Christopher R. Borland. All rights reserved.