Ask any student and they’ll tell you that AP classes have more homework than on-level classes. But is the amount of homework worth it?…
I’m always fascinated to find when you are aware something, how often you find it in places you least expect it. It seems like I can’t listen to any subject without hearing about something that relates to school and how we (mis)educate our children.
Who would have thought that while listening to stock investing podcasts I would find information that relates to education and anxiety? Such as this interview on a Motley Fool with the author of The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future, Kevin Kelly.…
Included in this study about how technology and social media can hurt work productivity is a bit of information that explains how homework hurts children.
How many AP classes should you take? You want to get into a “good” college, right? So you look for advice on how many AP classes you should take. You find the same advice everywhere. Take as many AP classes as you can handle! But how many AP classes is that, really? Let’s take that advice and analyze what they’re saying. Let’s do the math! (And it’s not AP Calculus. It’s basic arithmetic.)…
High school parents, does this sound familiar to you?
Does your kid “do homework almost every day on Saturday and Sunday, working until late at night every day?”
Do your kids stay up late doing homework every (or almost every) school night? Do they spend several hours on homework on the weekends?
Do you have trouble going out of town on school holidays because your students are assigned homework over school breaks?
Well, the quote above isn’t exactly about homework. The quote is actually what some parent’s said about their daughter’s work situation.
[She would] “work almost every day on Saturday and Sunday, working until late at night every day…”
Going to school and doing homework are the “work” of our kids. (And some have outside jobs which is also work.)
Now, what if I also told you that the young woman the parents were talking about was a Japanese woman who died of congestive heart failure at age 31? A government investigation found her cause of death to be her “work life.”
This is not the first time I have read articles about death from over-work in Japan. In fact, death from work stress is so common that the Japanese have a name for it, “karoshi,” or “death from overwork.”
You might look at the title of the article, Young Worker Clocked 159 Hours of Overtime in a Month. Then She Died, and think it is so extreme that it doesn’t apply to you and your child. But I think they took the most extreme week this poor girl worked and used it for the headline. There were several quotes that felt chillingly familiar to me.
She rarely took weekends off.
My high school kids have homework every. Single. Weekend. Even though we have tried to moderate their schedules and they don’t have as many AP classes as their friends.
She worked until midnight nearly every night.
This was happening to our kids until we moderated their classes by parental restrictions on how many AP classes they could take. (Yes, we told our teenagers they couldn’t take every class they wanted to. We see it as our job to protect their health, even when it makes them unhappy with us.) Staying up until midnight or later still happens more than we would like it to.
… a country where exhaustion is often seen as a sign of diligence.
This was a quote about Japan. But it could just as well be a quote about the United States. Even more amazing and admired? If you can manage to hide your exhaustion.
[she was] “in a state of accumulated fatigue and chronic sleep deprivation” at the time of her death.
My kids have friends who fall asleep in class. So far, my kids haven’t done that. (Not that I’ve found out about!) But there are still too many school weeks where I know they are sleep deprived. I fear that the teenage love of Starbucks is fueled by more than the love for the taste of coffee.
Japan first recognized their problem with karoshi in the 80s. They are still struggling to do anything to correct it.
Think about it, when do kids learn their work ethic? How many times have you told them that doing their homework is important for that reason?
But we have lost sight of the fact that school is when kids also learn their sense of life-work balance.
Add up the number of hours your child is in school. (37.5) Add mandatory hours for their chosen extracurricular activity. Add homework. Are you past 40 work hours per week yet? How far past? Now remember that the 40 hour rule is a guideline for adults, not children.
Are our kids learning life-work balance? Judging from the skyrocketing cases of anxiety and depression on colleges campuses, the scale is about to tip.
How long until “karoshi” becomes the American word for “death from overwork?”
Read more about karoshi, over-work, and the effects of sleep deprivation
Our oldest was just starting the college application process two years ago…. when I broke my wrist. With surgery, I was completely out of commission and my husband had a lot on his plate. Our son was pretty much on his own with his college applications. I couldn’t figure out why he was so worked up about writing his college application essay.
I knew he didn’t like writing (he’s a computer guy). But his level of anxiety seemed out of proportion to me. Even with great test scores, he was terrified that a less than stellar college application essay would blow his chances of getting into the college he wanted. He was afraid his essay would rip up his golden ticket….
National Merit Semi-finalist cutoff scores on the PSAT appear to have risen dramatically this year. It’s not just because kids are getting smarter (they are, Why Smart Kids Worry, page 5), or students do more prep for the SAT, but also because the College Board has not managed the redesign well. Many, many, many kids will miss the cutoff that deserve to have their hard work recognized. How you think about this “win” or “loss” can be important emotionally.
Knowing some limitations to the test can help you frame what missing – or surpassing – the National Merit Cutoff score means.
The SAT and PSAT were dramatically redesigned in 2015/2016. There were multiple problems with the 2015 PSAT and the release of the scores. And there were still problems in 2016.
Among other changes, I read somewhere that the Math Without Calculator section of the PSAT was originally intended to have 20 questions. But most of the kids couldn’t finish it. (I can’t find the source again, but this kind of issue is not covered well in the media, as you’ll see with the next issue.) Of the options they could have considered for correcting that problem, they chose to cut the number of questions to 17.
Then on the 2016 PSAT, Math Without Calculator section on one test had two problems that got thrown out as un-scorable.
I have worked in educational textbook and test writing. That is inexcusable, especially on a test of this magnitude.
Again, you will not find this well covered in the media. It appears that only a handful of students who were in the running for National Merit Semi-finalist, the ones who were affected by the mistake, noticed it.
But the hard fact is that this years class was left with only 15 math questions in that section when there were intended to be 20. And students could lose valuable time on the two faulty questions. Sure, most of them had the same faulty questions. (Not all, there were two test versions.) But, depending on where a student’s strengths lie, there is luck of the draw whether or not it tripped you up, or spent valuable time on them. And being at the top it is a matter or luck in so many ways.
If you, or your child didn’t make the National Merit cutoff score (and even if the did), it’s important to think about whether or not National Merit means anything and put it in perspective.
National Merit Qualifying Scores on the 2016 PSAT for 2018 Graduating Seniors are unpublished
It appears that the qualifying scores for 2018 National Merit Semi-finalists went up anywhere from 1 to 6 points. (Only one state went down.)
I say appears, because the National Merit Scholarship Corporation is secretive about the way it selects finalists, even though it is well known that selection is based entirely on your PSAT National Merit Selection Index score and the state you live in. They notify the schools and put out a press release with names of Semi-finalists (hiding the names on the press release published on the internet), but do not release any official cutoff scores. This means that if a school fails to notify a student, they have no way of knowing they are a finalist.
A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to see a list of qualifying scores that was released by state. I haven’t seen a similar list this year, so I don’t know if one was released. They may have quit doing that as well.
What’s next after National Merit Semifinalist determination
Did you (or your student) make the cut? Congratulations! Remember you will need a National Merit SAT confirming score.
Did you miss the cut? Remember that while making semi-finalist is an honor, missing the National Merit cut doesn’t really mean anything about your intelligence, and there are still good merit scholarships you will likely qualify for.
If you missed the cut-off score, please remember that there are many paths to success. In fact, I’m beginning to think that if you expend a lot of energy trying to attain success as the way education defines it, you may actually hurt your chances for success. Check out my posts about hugely successful people described in the book Outliers.
Ways to find out the National Merit Qualifying Scores on the 2016 PSAT for 2018 Graduating Seniors
There are fewer places on the internet where you can find the National Merit Qualifying scores for 2018 than in past years. I suspect that the College Board and the National Merit Corporation are withholding more and more information. One can only hope that as they continue to be less and less reliable, colleges and universities will put less trust in them. Let’s hope the merit aid scholarships don’t disappear with that trust, but instead are determined in alternate, more fair ways. It’s a shame, because the ACT and SAT can be one way of equalizing opportunities for students who have found they are tired of working the system to get to the top of the GPA class ranking mess caused by the College Board AP classes.
Here are some places where they have done the work of aggregating results and making deductions about the likely 2018 National Merit Qualifying scores by state. If you are looking to figure out what types of scores will be needed on the 2017 PSAT for the National Merit Qualifying Cutoffs scores be state for the Class of 2019, Art Sawyer at Compass Prep Education Group does an extensive and thorough analysis the data before making predictions.
Read more about the SAT redesign and National Merit
Scores for new PSAT are finally out. What to know about them (and what they mean for redesigned SAT). Highlights some of the issues with the newly redesigned PSAT the year before.
I’ve pulled together 9 fantastic resources to help you write your best college application essay! A step-by-step guide for writing your college essays, resources to help you learn how to highlight your talents and accomplishments, do’s and don’ts of writing a college essay, and successful college essay examples.