Text Reviews February, 2017

Title and Authors: Are They Really Ready to Work? “Employers' Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century U.S. Workforce” - The Conference Board, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Corporate Voices for Working Families, Society for Human Resource Management


Response #1


Problem: According to employers who participated in this study, high school graduates are ill-prepared for the demands of today's and tomorrow's workplace. College graduates are “adequately” prepared. The skills needed included Basic and Applied Skills: (other skills were noted but not emphasized)

·        English Language (spoken)

·        Reading Comprehension

·        Writing in English (In would call this: using correct Standard English Conventions)

·        Mathematics

·        Other Academic Subjects (Science, Government, Economics, Humanities/Arts, Foreign Languages, History/Geography

·        Professionalism/Work Ethic

·        Oral and Written Communications

·        Teamwork/Collaboration and

·        Critical Thinking/Problem Solving.

Authors' recommendations, perspectives, or assertions:

               Improvements needed in the readiness of new workforce entrants.

High school graduates are deficient in:

·        Basic knowledge and skills of Writing in English, Mathematics, and Reading Comprehension

·        Written Communications and Critical Thinking/Problem Solving

·        Professionalism/Work Ethic

And adequate in:

·        Information Technology Application, Diversity, and Teamwork/Collaboration

2-year and 4-year college grads:

·        Better prepared than high school grads but deficient in Writing in English and Written Communications, and Leadership

Employer Responses:

Basic Knowledge

Rated as “very important”:

Writing in English - 49.4% for high school graduates, 64.9% for 2-year college graduates, 89.7% 4-7 year college graduates

Mathematics - 30.4%, 44%, 64.2%

Science - 9%, 20.3 in manufacturing industries; 39.4 as “important”; increases for college grads

Foreign Languages - Foreign Languages - 11% - rated as “increasingly important

Other Basic Knowledge - no more than 20% rate as “very important”; however, comments suggest that skills in Government, Economics, Humanities/Arts, and History/Geography are “relevant.”

Applied Skills

Rated as “very important” for successful entry level job performance:

Professionalism/Work Ethic - 80.3%

Teamwork/Collaboration - 74.7%

Oral Communications - 70.3%

Ethics/Social Responsibility - 63.4%

Critical Thinking/Problem Solving - 57.5%


Increases for 2-year…


Oral Communications - 95.4%

Teamwork/Collaboration - 94.4%

Professionalism/Work Ethic - 93.8%

Written Communications - 93.1%

Critical Thinking/Problem Solving - 92.1%


The ranking of both basic and applied skills is as follows:

HS grads - Of the 5 most frequently rated “very important,” 4 are applied - Professionalism, Teamwork, Oral Communications, and Ethics/Social Responsibility. 1 was basic: Reading Comprehension.


Basically the same for 2-yr

4-yr all 5 are Applied


It is important to note that while the Applied Skills are rated “higher” than the Basic Skills, the basic skills are the foundation for the applied skills. “In the end, it is the application of math concepts and writing techniques used to conduct business more efficiently that appears to be most valued by the employer respondents” (22).


Most valuable in the resource- the findings that business people want employees who can communicate, work in teams, are professional, and can solve problems even more than who are knowledgeable in content areas is valuable information.


The “Professionalism/Work Ethic” skill is something my husband who is the Executive Director at N.E.W. Alliance Counseling Services discusses with me often. It seems to him that the trend of young adults who he employs today is that they are “entitled” and believe they deserve to be given their paycheck even if they aren't “being professional.” I do not know how as teachers we can combat this attitude. To me this attitude comes more from parents or society. He also talks about how dressing appropriately and arriving on time and doing the job they are required to do without complaining are areas he believes need addressing. These are things that seem to be common sense but are not being taught or expected on a regular basis.


Least valuable in the resource- for me, the least valuable information were the tables of the findings. These seemed redundant since they explained all the information from the tables in the text. However, probably the tables are necessary for this type of report and some will want to access the information from the table rather than the text.


               Response #2

Description of Problem: The problem discussed in this report is the readiness or lack thereof of high school graduates, two-year college graduates, and 4 year college graduates to enter the workforce.  With an ever advancing technology base and business being more global than ever, employers feel like basic knowledge and applied skills in their employees are a necessity if companies want to continue to compete.  The report argues that new entrants into the workforce are “woefully ill-prepared for the demands of today's (and tomorrow's) workplace.”  It also breaks down the skills and knowledge that are required to be successfully in the workforce.  They use the term “report card” and grade entry level employees in two broad categories:  basic knowledge and skills, and applied skills.  The report stresses that while the basic knowledge and skills are still “fundamental” ideas, the applied skills are very important for success at work. Examples of the applied skills that the report emphasizes are: critical thinking/problem solving, oral communications, written communications, teamwork/collaboration, diversity, information technology application, leadership, creativity/innovation, lifelong learning/self direction, professionalism/work ethic, and ethics/social responsibility.    The report emphasizes that that each level of education, there is still a need for improvement and businesses must join in the effort

Description of Author's Recommendation: The author's recommend a variety of things that can be addressed while also acknowledging that the report was not comprehensive in its scope and additional research/work is needed.  One of the recommendations at the high school level was the continued development of Project Based Learning with its emphasis on interdisciplinary projects, teamwork, and communication.  Other recommendations include an idea they call “Employment 101”.  The report suggests implementing at all education levels, a course or program that emphasizes: “issues of timeliness, dress, career growth, courtesy, teamwork, commitment, responsibility, and integrity.”  Another action suggested collaboration between businesses, educators, and communities in “enhancing important workplace skills.  For example, internships, summer jobs, work study programs, job shadowing, mentoring, on-the-job training, as well as other educational approaches that include real-world experiences or community involvement.”  It suggests that businesses should look at implementing lifelong learning opportunities for its employees. 

Most Valuable/Least Valuable: I think the thing that was most valuable idea to me was just a general awareness of the lack of preparation, especially of high school graduates, for entrance into the work force.  The report indicates that work needs to be done at each level of education, but 4 year college graduates are generally more prepared than two-year or high school graduates.  I think the thing that I found least valuable is I am not sure that the report addresses some of the real issues that students face. 


Title and Author: Becoming a Learner, by Matthew L. Sanders

Problem:  In this book, the author discusses the problems that students face as they enter college and attempt to finish their undergraduate work.  Incoming college students are often frustrated with the amount of classes that they are required to take in core subjects that may not reveal anything about the major that they have chosen.  Students are also often filled with the misconception that they will finish their degree work and have all of the knowledge that they need to enter the work force and be competent in their related field.

Author Recommendations:  Sanders asks students to look at the whole picture when examining their undergraduate education.  Undergraduate programs are designed to build a person as a whole in order to prepare them for various aspects of their chosen career.  Math classes will allow a student to build different types of problem solving skills.  English and composition courses allow a student to build communication skills essential to entering the work force.  Major classes will give students specialty knowledge in their chosen field.  The most important things for students to recognize is that college is building a lifelong learner that can adapt to various situations that will arise as they move throughout Their career path.

Valued Knowledge:  I felt Sanders made some very valid points throughout the book.  We should never feel that we are done learning once we leave college.  The well rounded person that leaves college is often what an employer seeks, and not just how much that person knows about the career field.   Employers are not looking for experts, rather they are looking for individuals that are able to adapt and learn from the field around them.

Less Valued Knowledge:  I feel that this was a great outlook on the college experience, I also feel that some employers would like individuals that require very little training.  In competitive areas, students are faced with competing for jobs with people that have experience or a greater knowledge base than their own.  How do we better prepare these students?


Title and Authors: Closing the Social Class Achievement Gap for First-Generation Students in Undergraduate Biology, by Harackiewicz JM, Canning EA, Tibbetts Y, Giffen CJ, Blair SS, Rouse DI, Hyde JS.


Problem: First generation (FG) students, minorities, and women often face stereotyping that can negatively affect their self-image and therefore their ability to do well. The problem affects all levels of education and all types of courses. Many more of these students drop out or do poorly in their education. Some research has been done to intervene with minorities and women: for middle school African American vs. White students, for women vs men in math/science classes, low SES vs. average SES college students. This study attempted an intervention specifically with first-generation students.


Interventions: “Values affirmation” (VA)helps minority students buffer their self-esteem against perceived stereotyping threats, such as “women don't do well in math and science” or “since your parents didn't go to college, it will be really difficult for you to do well.” The intervention might be writing about one's core personal values or making a presentation to others about core values. Various studies have shown that when minorities participate in such interventions, their scores in a variety of educational setting improve compared to their “majority” peers. In some cases, the effect lasted several years, with significantly improved grades for those who participated in one VA intervention.  


This study conducted a VA with 798 U.S. students (154 first-generation) in an introductory biology course for majors. All students were assigned a 15-minute writing exercise, on a packet which listed 12 “values,” such as being good at art, relationships with family and friends, independence, athletic ability, spiritual or religious values, etc. The VA students were instructed to circle the 3 values that were most important to them and to write a few sentences about why they were important to them. The control circled the 3 values least important to them, but instructed to write about why others might find them important. Students were also given a Likert scale reflection sheet, such as “In general, I try to live up to these values” (VA intervention). These exercises happened twice: once early in the term and again shortly before the 2nd midterm.


Outcome: “For first-generation students, values affirmation significantly improved final course grades and retention in the second course in the biology sequence, as well as overall GPA for the semester. This brief intervention narrowed the achievement gap between first-generation and continuing generation students for course grades by 50% and increased retention in a critical gateway course by 20%.” (pg1)


Most valuable:  The intervention described was easy to administer in any class. It was not pitched as a values affirmation intervention, but instead emphasized that writing in general was useful in all education.

Least valuable: Interestingly, VA did NOT improve the outcomes of “majority” students. While it was not tested in this study, the intervention might be best used in a pull-out course specifically for minority, female and FG students, since it was time wasted for most of the students.



Title and Author: “Expectations Meet Reality” (2016) Center for Community College Student Engagement.


Problem:  The problem is there is a disconnect between student sense of college readiness to succeed and the actual success of students along with sense that developmental education, as a system, is hindering the success of students who are not college/career ready. 


Recommendation:  The recommendations to remedy the disconnect between high school success and college readiness is to use multiple measures for placement and to revamp/rethink developmental education for those students deemed to need it.


Value of the Resource:  The publication offers little new information about placement and developmental education. The audience seems to be those with little or no knowledge about what is taking place. They begin with the claim that development education is broken. This systems approach fails to take into account the whole of the system in which we find developmental education, higher education in a capitalist system that vastly underfunds education at all levels. Similarly, the targets for improvement all seem to be arbitrary. At least no evidence for targets of 60 percent completion and the like are provided. These seem to be numbers pulled out of thin air. The language of the report is generally vague and Pollyannaish .When specifics are provided, the marginal gains seem hardly worth the effort. When increases or decreases are one or two percent with Ns of 30 or 40, and knowing how much time and effort these implementations require, they seem hardly worth it. Prepping for placement tests provide a one percent change among a small group. Data shows that a very few fewer students who take these courses end up in the bottom of the developmental food chain. Even full ABE courses provide minimal changes.


Even the rage for multiple placement measures is not worth the time and effort. This is partly because the success rates results from a requirement that students using multiple measure be fairly recent high school graduates. Those who have been away are stuck with a placement test. The article posits the placement method, rather than the context of those using the method, as the reason for success or failure. This seems to be a huge gap. Besides, with Directed Self Placement, students again are misled by their sense of self that is greater than the reality of their ability. While an A students is likely to be more successful than a B student from the same context (high school) there is no evidence that an A student from one high school will be better at anything than a B or C student from a different high school.

So, what helps? It could have been covered in a single paragraph rather than a glossy publication, but that's how these groups seem to work. Every student having an advisor will have a more positive sense of their placement. But since their self evaluation in this area is suspect, this should be suspect.

What can be seen to work, though still in a limited manner, is co-requisite Math and English courses. With Math this is only when there is a co-requisite course compared to a stand-alone online course. Maybe it's the instructor that makes the difference? The data doesn't distinguish. And the changes are so minor, two percent, though with a significant N of roughly 28,000 students, that it could be worthwhile. While co-requisite success in developmental and transfer English courses are better than the stand alone efforts, this time the N is so small, the highest cohort being 81, that, again, the numbers are not inspiring. What could be valid is that these cohorts succeed at a 25 percent greater rate than do those in stand alone dev ed courses.


Tile and Author: Boaler, Jo. Mathematical Mindsets. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2016.

Response #1


Description of the problem addressed: The U.S.'s underperformance in mathematics has been well documented by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).  In Mathematical Mindsets, Boaler argues that this deficiency is due to an “achievement culture” that fundamentally misunderstands the brain and its ability to learn.  Whether implicitly or explicitly held, prevalent amongst students, parents, and educators is the belief that one either has a natural ability for mathematics or one does not. This binary understanding of learning, known as a fixed mindset, foreshadows, to some degree, students' ultimate achievement in mathematics and dismisses the ability for the brain to change and grow.  Particularly vulnerable to the fixed mindset in mathematics are high-achieving girls, a group underrepresented in STEM fields.  Recent research into brain function shows that the fixed mindset is not permanent; instead, a growth mindset, an attitude towards learning that recognizes that the brain can grow and change in reaction to stimulus, can be taught to students, nullifying the negative consequences of the fixed mindset and opening the ability of learners to achieve a greater understanding of mathematics.


Brief description of the author's recommendations:  Boaler recommends a paradigm shift in the teaching of mathematics: moving away from a system that emphasizes correctness, calculation, systems, and rules, to a system that stresses the importance of creativity and problem solving.  Supported by recent research on the brain, math class, she argues, should focus on inquiry, the importance of making and analyzing mistakes, multiple methods for obtaining correct answers, less testing, a fundamental change to the purpose of homework, and an increase in rigor and challenge of the mathematics students are presented with.    


What is most valuable in Mathematical Mindsets:

·        Research-based argumentation

·        Extensive analysis and discussion on teaching mathematical mindsets, creating tasks that foster deeper learning, ensuring equity in the classroom, methods for teaching and creating flexible groups, and suggestions on assessment strategies.


What is least valuable in Mathematical Mindsets:

·        An emphasis on elementary school math instruction, particularly evident in the appendices.

·        Lack of appendix or framework that allows educators and administrators to quickly and systematically evaluate and/or modify existing curriculum or curriculum to be adopted.


Response #2

A description of the problem this resource attempts to address: Jo Boaler attempts to address and dispel all the myths about mathematical learning that are deeply rooted in the American psyche. She argues that these myths and misconceptions held by teachers, students and parents, contribute to the wide-spread fear of failure of mathematics and ineffective teaching practices in our schools. She uses the latest research findings on the brain and mathematics learning to argue that the single most important aspect of cultivating a culture that embraces mathematics learning at high levels for all is the development of growth mindset. This notion of growth mindset in mathematical learning encompasses everything from defining mathematics as “a set of ideas, connections, and relationships that we can use to make sense of the world” down to the very messages and specific strategies we can use create mathematical mindsets in our children.


A brief description of the author's recommendations: Jo Boaler offers a complete paradigm shift of how mathematics should be taught in schools as well as practical strategies for parents to reinforce the development of mathematical mindsets at home. She argues that mathematical learning should be inquiry based, where students are working on open-ended problems, where the focus is the reasoning through a problem and where struggles and mistakes are celebrated instead of frowned upon. She offers practical strategies that teachers can use to cultivate number sense and conceptual understanding of numbers and their relationships instead of rote memorization of math facts.

What you find most valuable and least valuable in the resource: I love the practical ideas and suggestions that I can immediately use in my classroom. I started reading excerpts of this book to my students as "food for thought" at the end of class because I often get asked by students, “Why do I have to learn this? When am I ever going to use this in my life? Everyone in my family sucks at math, why should I be different?” type questions and I started using research findings as well as real stories cited in this book to help students break free of  stereotypes and understand that mathematical learning is valuable to their success regardless of their career choice.



Author and Title: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol S. Dweck


Problem: The book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck attempts to address the differences between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Dweck defined the growth mindset is “based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts”. In comparison, Dweck defined the fixed mindset as “believing that your qualities are carved in stone” (Dweck, 2006). Throughout the reading, Dweck explains how one can change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset even if individuals grew up with a fixed mindset. The author discusses how many different successful individuals such as Michael Jordan, Ben Hogan and Darwin (and many more) all challenged themselves to grow and persevered.


Recommendations: The author discusses an array of different recommendations for educators and parents to utilize. Dweck accomplishes this by using vignettes and how the growth mindset was used in this situation. The One portion of the book that stood out was a chapter about business. The chapter discusses how some individuals have been raised by being praised by their parents. Additionally, how praise can be dangerous to some. The author directs readers to praise individuals based on their growth and initiative to take on a difficult new task rather than the creation of something or good performance. Another example of the author utilizing growth mindset with a student is when she discussed a student whose parents expected her to attend Harvard. The student did not get accepted into Harvard and fell into a deep depression. In this scenario the author discussed how she assisted the student to help her graduate. In addition to this scenario she mentioned how she encourages the parent want the best for their student in the correct way.


Value of the resource: In the reading, I have found all of the reading to be a piece of valuable information. The reading challenges the reader to encourage a growth mindset in all individuals. As a school counselor I appreciated the scenarios that the reading provided as I feel I can take this information and encourage a growth mindset with students. Additionally, I feel I can utilize the information provided to me to encourage students with a fixed mindset to develop and change into a growth mindset. The least valuable information has been the discussion of praise and reassurance. The reading discusses how praise and reassurance can be dangerous however; I did not find as many examples of how to address this with students. Although there were examples in the reading, I feel I could benefit from more examples addressing this issue. 



Title and Author: New Conceptions of College and Career Ready, by David T. Conley

Response #1


Problem: This resource discusses the current system for college readiness and believes that being “college ready” is changing over the years based on the human needing to continue learning for a lifetime based on economic changes.   It also believes that the current system for determining college admissions has issues that are continually overlooked. 


Recommendations: Analyze a wider set of data about each individual student comprehensively to determine whether a student is “college ready”.  Is the student able to make a life transition from youth to young adult, from semi-dependent high school student to semi-dependent college student?  The only way to determine this is to use a variety of information based on multiple data sources to have a student-centered profile. Instead of standardized tests as the only means of student data, institutions will need to analyze multiple pieces of data to clarify “college ready”.


Most Valuable: I believe that this is a correct methodology to a more in-depth look at individual students, especially with multiple data sources used to determine whether a students is ready for college.


Least Valuable: With multiple personalities and academic savvy, how will one profile be created to serve all?


Response #2


Problem: The problem facing today's admission process is finding students that are college and career ready.  The standard test scores and GPA aren't accurately painting the right picture anymore for various reasons.


Recommendation: The author would like to make a profile of each student based on an additional set of requirements currently not measured by just GPA and test scores. 


Value of the resource: I find it valuable that the author would like to add more to the profile of a student to determine college and career readiness. The more pieces to the puzzle the better picture you can see.  What I find least valuable is that you have to take the profile pieces out of teacher's hands.  If you have teacher voice or opinion that can be influenced by community, administration, society, etc. you won't get the full truth.  There would have to be a measure of confidentiality, even then it won't work.


Author and Title: Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell


Response #1


Description of Problem Presented in Outliers:  Gladwell sets out to dispel conventional wisdom about what makes people successful and argues that we must focus on more than simply natural talent and hard work. Essentially, his book explores the dichotomous argument of what matters more in creating successful people: nature or nurture? Each chapter presents a problem from a different arena of life--from kids seemingly destined to fail in school to a Korean airline with unusually high incidents of crashes. What links these problems is a similar broad solution that adds complexity to the success formula. By the end of the book, we understand that outliers are not freaks of nature, but people/groups who had the right combination of factors--including luck--that produced a highly successful outcome.


Brief Description of the Gladwell's Recommendations:  Gladwell saves his recommendation for the end of his chapters. Through his delayed-thesis method, we are led to his conclusion seemingly on our own. In the most general sense, Gladwell recommends that we consider more factors in the success formula--not simply intelligence and ambition. He claims that culture, timing, and opportunity are just as important as innate talent or a high IQ. After providing much evidence from various studies, Gladwell proves that outliers are not born, but born at the right time, in the right place, with the right opportunities. It is the combination of these different factors, according to Gladwell, that breeds an outlier. While some of these factors cannot be controlled--such as when you are born--others can be molded by understanding their importance. Ultimately, Gladwell recommends that we pay more attention to the factors that we can control in order to produce a world where more people have the opportunity to flourish.


What I Found Most Valuable: Although I found the entire book engaging and persuasive, two chapters in particular are highly useful for educators: “The 10,000 Hour Rule” and “Marita's Bargain”. The former explains why 10,000 hours is a minimum requirement for achieving an “expert” level at something. After providing example after example, Gladwell convinces me that (about) 10,000 hours is a necessity. His point is that almost all outliers have put in this many hours before achieving success. This confirms my belief that high school students behind in reading and writing skills simply need more hours in their day to read and write--that is, two periods of English. We have done this with math in our building and it worked. It's time to do this with English, especially since reading and writing skills are the foundation to any discipline. Do the math and you realize that we need more opportunities--i.e. time--for students to become proficient in these skills. Especially in light of our current world, were many people cannot discern real news from fake news and where propaganda surrounds us on social media, these critical reading skills are vital. Teaching students how to evaluate sources, develop a healthy skepticism, and make informed decisions are necessary for our democracy. Yet, literature appreciation, thinking about the human condition, and fostering creativity are important too.  


The other chapter that I found directly relatable to education is the chapter titled, “Marita's Bargain.” Here, Gladwell gives us the story of Marita, a middle-schooler living in the Bronx with her single mom, who was given a chance (through a lottery) to attend an experimental public school called the KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) Academy. They opened in the mid-1900s and were incredibly successful--an outlier--largely because of the culture it fostered through long school days (almost 10 hours) and academically rigorous courses where students spent much time mastering skills. Gladwell dispels the myth that schools need more money, better teachers, and better technology in order to succeed. Instead, he shows us how KIPP became one of the best programs in the nation because its long school day (more practice) and serious culture of emphasizing education. Through much data, Gladwell convinces me that what educators need to do is focus on creating more opportunities for students to catch up in skills. He makes other recommendations too, such as year-long schooling that he believes will increase retention. His claim comes at the final paragraph of the chapter when he writes, “Marita doesn't need a brand-new school with acres of playing fields and gleaming facilities. She doesn't need a laptop, a smaller class, a teacher with a PhD, or a bigger apartment. She doesn't need a higher IQ [...]. Marita just needed a chance (269).


I would like to discuss these questions in our meetings: How can we offer more opportunities for our students? How can we change the culture in our school so that students value education more? How can we close the gap between our AP students and our general education students? How can we level the playing field so that our rural students feel that college is for them? 


What I Found Least Valuable: I cannot labeled any section of the book or idea “least valuable.” Even the chapters that didn't directly pertain to academia were useful in understanding Gladwell's general argument of the importance of culture and opportunity.  I enjoyed both the content and writing style of Outliers and see value in sharing some of the chapters with my students.


Response #2

Problem and Recommendations: It's tempting to look at a highly successful individual and assume he/she is a genius, gifted, that whatever that person is good at, just comes naturally.  Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell looks at the issue of success.  He presents case stories of individuals who are extremely successful and describes how they came upon that level of success.  In each scenario, he describes how circumstances, culture, community, and/or family have contributed to individual success.  Gladwell states that through Outliers, he wants the reader to “understand how much of a group project success is and that means, we, as a society, have more control about who succeeds – and how many of us succeed – than we think.”

Some of the chapters looked specifically at learning and reasons for why American schools fall short.  For example, Asian children learn to count much faster than American children.  Chinese number words are very brief.  It takes less than ¼ of a second to utter each one.  It takes 1/3 of a second to utter our number words.  Our number system is highly irregular.  There's has a logical sequence.  A Chinese saying:  “No one who can rise before dawn 360 days a year fails to make his family rich”.  Working really hard is what successful people do.  Gladwell talks extensively about the 10,000 hour rule…the magic number for “true expertise”.

Attitude and persistence matters.   Students who persevered and completed all the questions on a lengthy questionnaire associated with the TMISS, (test which compares one country's educational achievement with another's) were the same students who did the best on solving the math problems. 

KIPP academy - summer vacation is very detrimental to student learning.  Most low income students are not participating in engaging educational activities and programs during the summer months.  Thus they lose ground.  Privileged kids learn when they are not in school, but disadvantaged kids often do not.  Schools are doing their job September through June.  There's just not enough school in session for disadvantaged kids.  Kipp students attend school until 5 pm daily and then they are often at school until 7 attending homework clubs, detention and sports.  Saturdays they attend from 9-1 and summers from 8-2.  They learn the true meaning of grit, discipline, and self-control.

 Value of resource: I really enjoyed this book.  I actually listened to it on audiotape.  It was fascinating.  It's empowering to realize the potential our students can reach given the will to work hard.  As a counselor, I routinely tell students that, but now I actually have some examples to share and believe in that possibility more wholeheartedly.  I certainly like the idea that if you put 10,000 hours into anything you choose, you can become a Bill Joy or a John Lennon.  However, it must come with some expense and sacrifice in other areas of life.


Author and Title: Pathways to Improvement: Using Psychological Strategies to Help College Students Master Developmental Math, May 2013, w|ritten by Elena Silva and Taylor White


A description of the problem this resource attempts to address:

Ø  60 percent of Community College Students are unprepared and become discouraged when faced with long sequences of remedial classes, especially math classes. Half of unprepared drop within the first several weeks.


Ø   Students quit because they believe they aren't smart enough to do math


Ø  Students believe the class itself has little relevance to their personal or academic goals


Ø   Students believe they don't really belong in the course or in college at all.


As a result, many students do not share in the psychological, emotional, and economic benefits of higher education.


A brief description of the authors' recommendations:

Ø  A restructuring of Math pathways including a Statway and Quantway which is geared towards the students' goals and relevant to their chosen career.

Ø  Embedded specific study skills into the pathway curriculum

Ø  Psychological strategies embedded in the curriculum that promotes persistence, retention and completion

Ø  Promotion of group activity the encourages a sense of belonging


What I found most valuable and least valuable in the resource: I am encouraged by the research approach to math restructuring in the math pathways, however I would have encouraged the research include other models of success including emporium, accelerated, flipped classrooms and non- remedial approaches.


Author and Title: “Redefining College Readiness” V. 3, by David T. Conley


Problem and Recommendation: As the title implies, the goal of this article is to present a redefinition of the term “college readiness” that supplies a more useful view of the concept for educators.  The author focuses on hard and soft skills rather than traditional measures such as high school grades and test scores.  He defines the term “operationally as the level of preparation a student needs to enroll and succeed—without remediation—in credit-bearing general education courses at a post-secondary institution” (Conley 5).   The purpose in redefining this term is to evaluate the strategies and systems currently in place at the high school and college levels so that students begin fully prepared to succeed when they enter college.  Conley also questions the current admissions criteria (including test scores, grades, and AP coursework) for its accuracy in determining readiness. He breaks college readiness into four primary facets: Key Cogitative Strategies, Key Content, Academic Behaviors, and Contextual Skills & Awareness.   Each of these aspects, he argues, is key to success, and many are not addressed within the current educational system.  In the final section of the article, Conley offers specific suggestions for both students and schools to foster college readiness: Create a culture focused on intellectual development, specify core knowledge and skills, provide necessary support to students, and provide necessary support to students (25-27). 


Value of resource: While the idea that student readiness goes beyond test scores may not be revelatory to educators, Conley's specificity and in-depth examination of the multi-faceted issue provides excellent context for debate on the topic.  His definitions are helpfully focused on real-world requirements rather than theoretical practices, and the holistic exploration of the system—including students, educators, admissions, and administrators at both the k-12 and secondary levels—provides a useful frame work to begin the necessary changes to improve student success and retention.