Many factors affect school performance
I was glad to see that two of three local high schools showed improvement in their ACT results as reported in the August 29 issue of The Hazard Herald. I could not completely agree with a statement by Sandra Johnson, superintendent of Hazard Independent Schools, “They need to start taking it [the ACT exam] as freshmen. Take it at least once a year. The more they take the test in a true testing situation, they’re [sic] score is going to come up every time they take it.”
I am reminded of advising students as a faculty member at Hazard Community and Technical College. Often I advised students who were trying to achieve the high course grades and high ACT scores necessary to meet the selective entry requirements of a particular career program. Occasionally, I would meet with an advisee who was trying to meet these requirements by taking only courses from which an easy “A” could be obtained and by taking the ACT exam over and over again to improve their score. Not surprisingly, their ACT scores did not improve. I recommended to the advisee that they enroll in more difficult courses and learn as much as they could from these courses before repeating the ACT again.
Taking the ACT over and over again might improve one’s test-taking ability, but dramatic improvement in test scores will not occur until one’s reasoning ability and overall knowledge has increased before taking the ACT again. Understanding this, the schools need to place their emphasis on course content and insuring that their students are learning the content. Obtaining high test scores is not magic. It requires long and persistent hard work on the part of students, teachers, and parents. There is no easy path.
Because many factors outside of the classroom affect how students perform in school, the burden for improving test scores must be a community activity. Healthy lifestyles including good nutrition, physical activity, and adequate sleep certainly increase learning and retention. A stable home life is always helpful as well as a designated time and place to study. Rationing of distractions such as cell phone use, computer gaming, driving privileges, loafing, and television viewing is needed. All members of the community need to get on board to improve the schools.
John Hoppe, Ph.D.
No money for space
Editor’s note: This letter is in response to Editor Cris Ritchie’s column last week about the American space program.
I remember seeing the Russian “Sputnik” on a dark, lonely beach on an island off North Carolina. I will remember the Apollo landing on the moon!
The Obama administration has gutted NASA. They can afford to send $527 million to Solyndra with your money and mine to see the company go bankrupt in one year, but they cannot send money to our space program.
In order to get American astronauts to the International Space Station, we send them on a Russian rocket. (I wouldn’t put my foot on a Russian skateboard!)
On top of that, the USA must pay Russia $60 million per man to get them to the space station!
The Obama administration can spend millions to subsidise windmills or solar panels that can not compete with ones from China, but wants us to be a third-world country in space.
The Chinese can now put up satellites that can shoot down their satellites. Are ours next?