Dear 8th Grade Parents / Guardians,
It’s Never too Early to Start Thinking About College!
As parents and educators, we all have hopes and dreams for our children. This year, a major focus for the middle school faculty is intentionally teaching and talking to students about aspirations, perseverance and commitment. Our goal is to encourage children to aspire to be more and to recognize that “Good enough is not good enough! Never stop working until it’s your best!”
Planning for the future success of our children begins now. By now, you should have received an introductory letter from Lake Shore High School Principal, Mrs. Christine Koch, along with an 8th to 9th grade transition timeline. Additionally, on January 4th, all 8th grade students attended an elective fair at the High School. At this program they learned about graduation requirements, elective courses, the importance of maintaining a rigorous class load, and the importance of getting involved in extra-curricular activities and sports.
High school counselors recently met with groups of students to finalize their 9th grade schedules. As you speak with your children about their high school classes, I ask that you encourage them to take courses that will challenge them and that will prepare them for the possibility of college.
While much has been said about changes in the college admission process, it is my personal observation that acceptance to college and the awarding of scholarship money is still largely based on high school grades, extra-curricular activities / sports and the results of standardized tests like regents exams and the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and American College Testing (ACT).
Rigorous standardized testing in the form of the New York State Regents exams, Advanced Placement Exams, the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (P-SAT), the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and the American College Testing (ACT) are an unavoidable part of high school and the college admissions process. To do well on these assessments, students need experience with high stakes testing; they need problem solving strategies and most of all they need the ability to persevere when a task is hard or frustrating.
As I consult with my high school colleagues, we find that because of the “opt-out movement”, many of our current high school students experience significant test anxiety and are not doing as well as the could be on Regents exams and other high stakes testing (like Advanced Placements (AP’s) and college admissions tests). Without the practice and experience of taking difficult assessments in grades 3-8, we feel they lack the task persistence needed and they become discouraged and give up when they encounter assessments that are extremely rigorous.
As we get closer to the grade 3-8 New York State Assessments, you will receive more specific information about the changes that have been made as a result of New York State Commissioner of Education’s fact finding. This year we will all be administering the NYS tests on a computer and the length of the test has been reduced from three to two days. Additionally, New York State Teachers were included in the development of test questions, results and data will be available to schools before the school year ends, and assessment scores are NOT being used to evaluate teachers. I urge you to consider having your child take this year’s New York State Test to give them this experience before they sit for Regents exams in high school.
One of our primary missions at middle school is to ensure that our students are ready for the high school. As a district, our mission is to produce graduates who are college and career ready. While attending college may seem like a financial stretch for many students, there are multiple resources available to help pay for college. For example, the New York State Excelsior Scholarship Program will cover student tuition to most New York State Colleges and Universities. Information is available on-line here:
Locally, many private colleges will match the Excelsior grant by offering school based scholarships that cover most or all of their tuitions. Additionally, federal aid is available based on income requirements and virtually all students can qualify for some type of student loans.
Many middle school faculty members and I have recently navigated the college admissions process and we would be happy to share our experiences with you. I welcome your thoughts, feelings and questions. Please feel free to contact us!
Erich E. Reidell
Principal, Lake Shore Middle School