The majority of high school graduates in the U.S. are not prepared to succeed in college. Over seventy percent fall short of readiness in at least one major academic area. One in four students entering college requires remediation in core subjects, and well over half do not graduate within four years. For socioeconomically disadvantaged students, college access and success are even more difficult.
Clearly, the existing college preparation and admissions paradigm is not working. Dominated for six decades by two tests (ACT & SAT) that provide no educational or predictive value, the system is unfair, outmoded, and in need of disruption. More than 1,000 four-year colleges and universities have now elected to not use the SAT or ACT to admit substantial numbers of bachelor-degree applicants (see Fair Test’s Test-Optional database.)
BetterRhetor’s long-term goal is to build an integrated system of instruction, assessment, and college connection. Our solution is aimed at better preparing college-bound students for college-level academics, regardless of their income or background. That means equipping them and their teachers with college-readiness essentials: effective college-prep instruction combined with authentic college-readiness assessment.
This vision includes an innovative web-based platform to deliver instructional resources and generate authentic college-readiness assessment information, for use in high school and college classrooms and programs. The platform is an important part of our solution for helping colleges better identify their best-fit recruits, and helping college-bound students connect with schools that believe in their success. Eventually, it would bring much-needed disruption to the current ACT/SAT Duopoly paradigm.
BetterRhetor’s long-term goal is to improve college-readiness instruction and assessment in both the Humanities and STEM—and to do so for as many students as we can in the most efficient and effective way possible. We believe that every student who wants to pursue a college education should have access to instruction and assessment aimed directly at helping them succeed.
COLLEGE-READY WRITING ESSENTIALS™
One of the most glaring areas of college-readiness deficiency—yet one of the most important for overall success—is writing. Research indicates that prior to college, students benefit from experience with authentic academic composition: extended writing that requires research, engagement with credible sources and multiple perspectives, critical thinking, and adherence to academic conventions.
Our College-Ready Writing Essentials™ online resource is designed for high school, homeschool, and early-college classrooms and programs and is available now. CRWE provides teachers with a research-based, tightly focused college-ready writing online instructional resource that they can easily integrate into existing courses and programs, even during the Covid-era. Educators and parents can have a high level of confidence that students are acquiring the experience and competencies they will need most for college-level writing success.
Our vision also includes developing a future STEM module similarly organized around an authentic extended project, emphasizing student choice and engagement, problem-solving skills, and the ability to convey complex ideas clearly, persuasively, and in accordance with academic conventions.
Our overall model includes:
• Instruction aimed at bridging the gap between what students learn in high school and what is expected of them in college;
• Readiness assessment seamlessly integrated into instruction: no more tests that don’t teach;
• Multiple modes of evaluation that ensure reliability and validity;
• Key knowledge and skills, behaviors, and metacognitive competencies taught, elicited, and assessed as integrated dimensions of authentic academic performance;
• Ongoing actionable feedback generated for both teachers and students;
• Equity-minded instruction and assessment: no test-prep advantages, no unfair cost barriers;
• Assessment of both student products and processes;
• Measures of progress and promise, as well as achievement.
If we’re going to close the college-readiness gap, college-bound students need to know what will be expected of them. They need opportunities to practice and demonstrate the full range of their abilities by doing authentic, relevant intellectual work. They need socialization into authentic academic communities. And they need to know how to take responsibility for their own learning and performances.
REAL STUDENT PORTRAITS™
Performance information collected through the platform we envision as students work will contribute to robust, comprehensive profiles of students, their capabilities, and their potentials.
We take an evidence-centered design approach to assessment:
• Defining the knowledge and skills, behaviors, and metacognitive awareness necessary for academic success;
• Identifying and articulating evidence of those competencies;
• And designing tasks that elicit the skills and abilities that give evidence of competency.
Multiple modes of evaluation integrated into student activities throughout the modules provide fuller, and fairer, assessments of student performance, compared with conventional standardized testing.
Our solution combines authentic performance assessment with other vital student information—demographics, interests, extracurricular activities, work experience, family obligations, etc.—to produce an enriched portrait of students, who they are and what they’re capable of. These Real Student Portraits™ become the basis upon which we help match students with colleges that believe in them. They also serve as diagnostic indicators that help students and their teachers understand and respond to academic strengths and weaknesses.
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