ACT Scores Reveal High School Seniors Unprepared for College

MICHELLE LIN
STAFF WRITER

According to ACT’s testing company, the majority of test-takers, close to two-thirds, are not ready for college coursework.
The ACT scores indicate that only 38 percent of seniors demonstrate readiness for college. This two percent drop from last year’s scores alarmed many students, parents and teachers across the nation.
“I think it is because the students are taking too many classes,” math teacher Luis Lopez said. “ They don’t have enough time to master the material.”
While some are expressing concern in regard to the results, Paul Weeks, senior vice president for client relations from the organization of ACT, did not find the results surprising at all. He explained that a number of new states were added to the report this year. Weeks also pointed out that last year only 1.9 million students took the ACT. As for this year, it was a total of 2.1 million students, an increase of about 0.2 million. Unlike last year, more students have decided to take the ACT instead of just the SAT in 2015. For these reasons, Weeks was confident that the increase in test-takers would bring an impact to the test results.
“People need to do more research to get the whole picture,” said Career Technological Education Advisor Janice Liu. Maybe some students did not do so well because they were not familiar with the style of the ACT tests. I’m sure most of them who did really well on the ACT, took preparation classes. The researchers might have to make an actual comparison between those who took prep classes and those who did not and how it affected their performance on the ACT.”
This year’s ACT results also suggest that 61 percent of high school graduates met the English benchmark. As for other subjects, the percentage came in at 44 percent for reading and 41 percent for math. The lowest score being 36 percent for science. Also, Weeks referred to 34 percent of the test-takers as college students who are very likely to struggle in classes. All these indicate the number of students that will succeed or end up retaking courses, which will extend the time they stay in college and a more costly education.
In addition to test scores, the researchers weighed the results along with other factors. According to the report, 49 percent of white test-takers took three or more benchmarks whereas 11 percent of African-Americans and 23 percent of Hispanics did. In terms of geographic location, writer Olivia Quintana from The Boston Globe reported Massachusetts is the state with the highest composite score at 24.8 percent. Connecticut and New Hampshire tied in with an average composite score of 24.5.
On the other hand, more students are attending vocational or technical schools. Two-year degrees have also increased by two percent. As for higher education, the percentage dropped by six percent.
“I can see why the majority of students wouldn’t be ready for college coursework.” said senior Eddie Diaz. “ Every student operates and works differently than others. Some students find doing difficult math problems and reading Shakespeare fun while other students think working with cars and sports is fun. We can only expect the best of our students from subjects and courses they actually love to do,”

ITT Technical Institutes Close For Good

KATHERINE GONG
STAFF WRITER

After about 50 years of providing primarily technological and business education to students with federal aid, ITT Tech is closing 136 of its technical institutes in more than 38 states. The reason? Numerous federal and state investigations over the company’s organization, administration and financial situation have revealed that it has not been meeting with the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools’ (ACICS) educational standards. On September 6th, the company ordered its institutes to cease all online and classroom instruction.
The decision, which will affect around 35,000 students and 8,000 employees, signals that ITT’s recruitment and accounting practices have been at the large expense of debt. The action not only raised alarm for seniors applying to college this year, but also led to wide unrest and complaints from ITT Tech students.
“I think it’d affect us in a way where student loans [would] come in and as well as the financial aid,” said senior Sandy Sanchez.
While the rest of ITT’s 15 California schools are banned from accepting new students, earlier in the year, ITT was notified by the Education Department that its surety bond would have to increase from $43,938,303 to $123,646,18. A surety bond is a three-party agreement regarding contracted documents that covers a school’s liability when it closes before the end of an academic period. The Education Department will also continue strict supervision over prohibiting awards of bonuses and raises to the company’s executives. The company’s $500 million dollar debt may have to be covered by taxpayer’s dollars.

PDK Poll Shows Overall Improvement

JASON ZHU

EDITOR IN CHIEF

Phi Delta Kappa (PDK), a professional association for educators, recently conducted the 48th annual PDK poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools. The poll results, reveal that Americans do not agree on the overall purpose of education.

45 percent of the Americans surveyed claimed that the purpose of education is to prepare students academically. The rest of the surveyed population splits between believing that the central goal of public school education is to prepare students for work and to help them become good citizens.

One reason that many Americans believe that education is for work-readiness could be because of economic uncertainty. The same poll produced a result in which states that approximately seven out of 10 surveyed Americans want their local public schools to focus more on career-technical or skills-based classes. Technical skills, according to most of the surveyees’, are essential to the students future in terms of making a living.

 “There’s a real question today about education’s return on investment.” Joshua P. Starr, CEO of PDK International said, “While we know that a college degree is essential in today’s economy, parents and the public want to see a clearer connection between the public school system and the world of work.”

 PDK believes that the poll results will offer policy makers some insight, because the split in the opinions on the purpose of school indicates that the previous efforts on addressing the American public education have not been completely successful nor satisfying to the public.

Annual H&R Block Challenge Commenses

LYNN ZHANG
Staff Writer

Every year, H&R Block, a tax preparation company in North America, hosts the H&R Block Budget Challenge, a free online simulation aimed to increase financial literacy among teens. This online simulation replicates an adult’s financial situation and responsibilities. Each participant is given a job and a salary and learn how to use budgeting and financial decision-making skills to manage loans, pay bills, invest in retirement and more.
“All students need to be financially aware. Like it or not, finances are a huge part of life and knowing how to handle the ebb and flow of finances can set you up for success!” said finance teacher Mr. Thomas Jelsma.
The Budget Challenge also offers a scholarship of $20,000 to five students with the highest overall Real-World Ready scores. The Real-World Ready score is determined by how engaged the student is, how well the student answers important financial questions and how well the student saves money and avoids late fees.
“The scholarship portion of the challenge is definitely a great idea. It provides an incentive for students to actually put their best effort into it. In addition to providing money, the challenge itself helps students prepare for their futures. In my opinion, the challenge itself is a win-win situation even if a student does not win the scholarship” said senior Rolan Huynh.

AHS Revives Science Olympiad Club

LYNN ZHANG
Staff Writer

Recently, two of AHS’s science teachers, Michelle Berry and Celine Valentine, restarted the Science Olympiad club. The club’s main objective is to prepare for and compete in the annual Science Olympiad competition.

“[It’s] a good opportunity. It seems like a fun way to get people involved in science,” freshman Catherine Driscoll said.

The competition has 23 team events, which includes both hands-on and traditional test-taking. During their meetings, members will prepare for their respective events by studying for the testing portion or doing practice trials for hands-on events.

“We’d study in groups, helping each other out. If we ever have questions we have Ms. Berry and Ms. Valentine [to help us].” Science Olympiad president Fianna Gin said.

Through Science Olympiad, students will be able to learn how to cooperate with one another, learn more about science outside the classroom and become more interested in science.

“Even though this is our first year back, science is important and the club’s focus is to get kids on a more even playing field and [help them] academically realizing that everything we see or do involves science,” Ms. Berry said.

Say Bye-Bye to Starting School Earlier

MICHELLE LIN
Staff Writer

In an article published by Southern California Public Radio (SCPR), 20 Los Angeles Unified School districts started school in early August. In comparison to last year, Alhambra High School started August 11th, three days earlier. SCPR also stated that this can greatly affect our students as well as an increase in school funding and teaching.

“Starting school early is good because we will be able to finish the curriculum before winter break and since in the past, we had to finish the semester after winter break,” Math Department chair Paul Stein said.

According to SCPR, the students will be given more time to study, especially for those taking Advanced Placement classes, now that the start date is pushed up. As for the teachers, it is more likely that they will be able to finish teaching the material before winter break arrives. On the other side, starting early can come with a cost: a much higher price for air conditioning.

“While school beginning early seems odd, I understand that starting school early can give more time to teachers who are required to prepare students for standardized tests such as AP exams in May. I would rather start early and finish early than start late and finish late. School is school either way–it doesn’t matter what time of year it is–, and if beginning the school year early will give more time for teachers to teach and students to learn, then why not begin earlier?” senior Rebecca Zeng said,

ATA Works to Further Communication

FARRAH LUU
Editor in Chief

On May 25th, 2016, Tammy Scorcia was elected as the new president of the Alhambra Teacher Association (ATA). ATA has about 900 active union members to promote and protect the well-being of every member.

“My biggest goal is to bridge the communication gap in Associates and Management. Schools can’t run effectively if everyone is on a different page. Making sure that the family we’ve created will run smoothly and be able to have open dialogue with each other,” ATA President Tammy Scorcia said.

ATA had their first Welcome Back Pancake Breakfast on Aug. 27 where members could bring their families to interact and get to know each other in order to improve communication among members from different schools.

“The Pancake Breakfast had a great turnout. The kids had fun with games to play all sorts of food and great representation from all three schools. Schools First, American Casualties and other benefits were present to sign-up for any benefits they would like,” Alhambra Segment Director Nancy Padilla said.

Last year, ATA brought the most signatures out of California to extend Proposition 55 and received recognition from the California Teacher Association. Prop. 55 is meant to replace Prop. 30 which brought funding to public schools after the Recession; however, it has expired and $27 million could be lost a year.
Other propositions ATA supports are 52 and 58. Prop. 52 continues fundings for medical care to help families in need and the elderly. Prop. 58 helps students learn English quickly while also mastering another language.

ATA plans on continuing to rally support and bring awareness to voters before the election in November. ATA will continue to improve the conditions and quality of public education in order to protect our teachers and students by advertising and advocating for our civil rights.

New Get Focused, Stay Focused Course for 2016

KATHERINE GONG
Staff Writer

This year, Alhambra High School is implementing a new course: “Get Focused, Stay Focused” (GFSF). The new mandatory one semester course focuses on facilitating the development of career interests and goals while helping students formulate their high school and college education plans.

In a seminar held in Santa Barbara, Mrs. Nieto, Mrs. Goldin, Mrs. Eyre, Mrs. Jacobson, Mr. Sanchez, Mr. Motta, Mr. Quiroz, Mr. Jelsma and Mrs. Trumpower went through the basics of the GSGF curriculum. They also found out that although many students go to college, not all persist through it. The goals of GFSF include exposing students to different careers while comparing each individual personality to potential careers.

“It’s the most important class you could take and it will introduce a new way of thinking,” Mrs. Goldin said.

Using workbooks titled “Career Choices” and “Workbook and Portfolio,” the program aims to direct its Career Choices curriculum toward creating a 10 year plan and portfolio by the end of the semester. Career Choices is actually a model based off of George Washington University’s Freshman Transition Initiative whole-school redesign project, targeting students of all learning styles while preparing them for their future.

Three years ago, Carpinteria High School in Carpinteria, California, launched a Career Choices seminar course in order to better prepare its students for the transition to college. In a video from the program’s website, seniors from that original class detailed the profound effect the class had on their college planning choices and revealed that while some students stuck with their plan, others changed course ‒ including a girl who planned to become a doctor and received a full ride to Harvard during her senior year.

Much of the GFSF curriculum relies on its teachers and the wide variety of careers and experiences they offer. The range of students’ personalities is even broader, many of whom are still trying to answer the puzzling question that plagues us all: “who am I?” It is in this area that GFSF has been providing quizzes and visuals that teach students to identify their passions and values as well as their personal interests.

“We cut up magazine pictures that represented ourselves” freshman Nam Nguyen said. Darren Tham, also a freshmen, added “We built houses out of legos to [express] who we are.”

New Powerhouses in AHS Community

JASON ZHU
Editor in Chief

As the school year starts, a lot of new faces appeared on campus. A total of fifteen new teachers and staff members joined the AHS community. Here are a few of them:
Alhambra’s new Special Education teacher Jeffrey Baumann hopes to expand our film club through the incorporation of a screenwriting class. He collaborates with several teachers in English classes while teaching sections on Government/Economics and Resource. He has a rich history of working with ESL and students with special needs.

Former AHS alumni and our new math teacher Melody Chao is excited to return to her alma mater. She is currently teaching AP Calculus BC, Computer Programming, and a few sessions of integrated math. Chao is also having high hopes for the Math Olympiad competition as the team’s advisor this year.

“It’s really an honor to be walking the halls of AHS again, but this time as a teacher. The kids are wonderful here and I see a lot of respect between student, teachers, and admins.” said Chao.

New History and Resource teacher Christopher Davis simply loves his teaching experience so far at Alhambra. He teaches collaboratively with history and science and previously worked in Monrovia and Arcadia School Districts. He earned his credentials and degrees in Special Education at CSULA and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

New science teacher Michelle Berry is looking forward to rebuild the Science Olympiad team for Alhambra. She currently teaches one biology class and four environmental science classes. She believes that the amount of collaboration present in each of the department will be crucial to the success of the teachers and the students.

New biology teacher Amy Ngo, also a former AHS alumni, is proud to become a member of Alhambra’s Science Department. She has also taken on the role of the new MESA club adviser, hoping to encourage more students to explore careers in science and engineering. Ngo attended UCLA for Bachelor’s degree in Biology and UC Davis for her teaching credential and Master’s in Education.

“[Coming] in now with the role of a teacher has given me a new perspective, like an inside look behind the stages,” said Ngo, “of what the teachers here do every day for the success and benefit of students.”

New teacher Colin Olsen is another great addition to Alhambra’s Math and Special Education departments. He is currently the instructor of several math courses and a collaboration teacher. Coming from Minneapolis, MN, Olsen enjoys his experience as a teacher on the west coast so far.

All the new teachers came to Alhambra High School with their own expectation and ambition, hoping that they will enjoy their teaching experience and the time spent with the students.

Teachers Show Off Skills at Stage Show

ELVIN CHAU
MICHELLE LIN
Staff Writers

On April 29, the Alhambra Dance Team (ADT) hosted Stage Show at the auditorium from 7-9 p.m. Stage Show is an event that traditionally only includes the dance teams, but this year it also included teachers.

The purpose of this year’s event, which was styled as a dance battle, was to show friendly competition and interaction between teachers and students. In addition, Stage Show allowed AHS dance teams to present what they have been doing throughout their year.

“We not only dance for the audience but [also] for each other. It brings us together one last time before we start a new [year] with a clean slate,” ADT member Anne Chau said.

Teachers Jessica Bray, Ernie Chen, Melissa Fu, Natalie Jaurequi, Eileen Kaiser, Kristin Keenan, Jennifer Marquez, Tuan Pham, Jayson Pineda and Kevin Tong performed alongside the students. At the end of the competition, all the teachers were given certificates. The winning performers of the dance battle, Pineda and the All-Male juniors, were chosen based on the amount of applause they received from the audience. Pineda received an award designed as a wrestling championship belt.

Teachers put in their own time to practice for the performance.

“Practicing was very hard; I took 15 hours through lunch and on my own, but it was worth it and my freshmen girls gave me fantastic choreography! The Stage Show was scary at first, but I felt encouraged by the support of the students. Overall, it was so much fun,” English teacher Melissa Fu said.

Performers also learned from the experience.

“This year’s performance was quite different compared to previous years. It’s our first time working with teachers and that was definitely a challenge; however, it was a great experience to be able to bond with the teachers in a way we otherwise would not have [been able to]. Other than having the teachers on stage with us, we had 1,033 people sitting in the seats of the auditorium, screaming and cheering for us […] and that meant everything to us as dancers,” ADT member Mai Trinh said.

Each and every one of the student performers worked hard during practices that would often last from one to three hours. Their effort was rewarded with waves of applause.

“It was an amazing honor to get to perform in front of friends and families, especially since it was my last time performing with my dance family. It was truly special [and I felt] such a bittersweet feeling,” ADT member Jackie Gomez said.

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