An Op-Ed by Frank Bruni was also published yesterday in anticipation of this release.
Included in the report are recommendations, some of which, I'm pleased to say, have already been a part of the school culture that Eleanor Roosevelt High School is trying to build. However, these goals can only be accomplished with buy-in from our students, parents, and guardians, so I hope that you will read through the report and reflect on how you can be a key player in making these recommendations a reality.
- The report recommends ". . that students engage in forms of service that are authentically chosen—that emerge from a student’s particular passions and interests— that are consistent and well-structured, and that provide opportunity for reflection both individually and with peers and adults."As you are all aware, ElRo asks students to submit 20 hours of community service per year to demonstrate their connection with the community around them. We have a designated Community Service and Internship liaison (Ms. Genova-Hall) to help support students that feel they need extra guidance in accessing opportunities. I've said many times in multiple forums that our aim is for students to engage in their world. The requirement of community service aims to push students past the point of just going through the motions to complete service hours and instead help them find ways to use their passions as jumping off points for building up year after year of meaningful and authentic connections in their local, regional, national, or even international community. While things like raising money or participating in awareness campaigns are a start, a better way to demonstrate caring is for students to engage directly with those that are impacted. Raising money for breast cancer research is good, serving as a patient escort for individuals seeking breast cancer treatment is even better. Making posters about recycling is good, becoming a Central Park teen park ranger is better.
- The report recommends "Colleges should tell students that taking the [standardized] test more than twice is very unlikely to meaningfully improve students’ scores." It has always been my recommendation that students sit for either the ACT or the SAT twice and taking the test more than that is not a useful or productive way to spend their time. Twenty years from now, you won't look back on endless sessions with a tutor as an experience that shaped your personality. Using that time to volunteer, or read classic literature, or get an internship at a museum very well could have a lasting impact on your life trajectory.
- The report recommends "Admissions offices should convey to students that simply taking large numbers of AP or IB courses per year is often not as valuable as sustained achievement in a limited number of areas." At ElRo, we make a conscious effort to be transparent about our policy to limit AP enrollment. 10th graders can take up to one AP course and 11th and 12th grade students are typically limited to two AP courses. This long time policy is in place to help students both manage their mental/emotional health and to help students make the connection between sincere academic interest and advanced coursework. We have been long time resistors of the "AP Arms Race" and I'm happy to see this report will encourage a continuation of those policies.
- The report recommends "Admissions officers and guidance counselors should challenge the misconception that there are only a handful of excellent colleges and that only a handful of colleges create networks that are vital to job success." I make a concerted effort to help re-frame the idea of what makes a 'good' college. I'm constantly recommending places like the schools found in the 'Colleges That Change Lives' network and a common refrain in my meetings with students is to encourage a well balanced list of reach, target, and likely schools. The name on your college diploma that matters most is your name, not the college's. You control much of your success via your drive, tenacity, ambition, and willingness to trust in your own ability.