Tag: academics

Baltimore Fishbowl Publishes “Guide to Baltimore Independent Schools”



The Baltimore Fishbowl has jumped into print with the publication this week of the “Guide to Baltimore Independent Schools.”

Friends School Head Weighs in on AP Classes in Letter to The Sun


The Baltimore Sun has published today on its website a letter to the editor from the head of Friends School of Baltimore, Matthew Micciche. In it he responds to The Sun’s story on the value of AP courses in high school. Micciche gives the reasons Friends does not offer AP courses and why the private Quaker school has no intention of doing so. – The Eds.

I read The Sun’s investigative report on Advanced Placement courses (“Some parents, educators are rethinking role of AP,” Jan. 18) with great interest, in part because our school, on principle, has never offered AP classes. Our rationale is simple: We believe the AP program and its heavy weighting toward the memorization and recitation of facts inhibits the development of critical thinking skills and deeper conceptual understanding.

It is heartening to see that the College Board has begun to acknowledge and address this significant pedagogical shortcoming. In a 2011 New York Times article, Trevor Packer, College Board senior vice president, said “the new AP needs to be anchored in a curriculum that focuses on what students need to be able to do with their knowledge.” We concur wholeheartedly with this assessment and have acted on this conviction by continually adapting and evolving our curriculum to develop students who are highly engaged creators of their own understanding, rather than passive recipients of a static body of knowledge.

As reporter Liz Bowie noted in the article, over the past decade a growing number of highly regarded public and private high schools have made the decision to drop AP from their curriculum for precisely these reasons. (Anecdotally, I can tell you that when colleagues at other schools learn that we have never offered AP, they often express the wish that this were the case at their own schools.)

The Homework Hassle: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

It was a picture-perfect evening. The humidity had finally dissipated, leaving us with air that could almost be called crisp. To the west, the sky was turning shades of orange and gold as the sun began its descent. Somewhere nearby, little kids laughed and screamed as they played chase before their parents chased them inside for the night.

Inside, my 11-year-old daughter experienced none of it. She sat, hunched over at the kitchen counter, school books splayed in front of her, her hand holding up her head. It wasn’t long before her fatigue and frustration gave way to whimpering and a full-on meltdown—ostensibly over a single homework assignment but more likely due to the breaking point brought on by sheer exhaustion that comes after a long day of school followed by a seemingly longer evening of homework. Ah, welcome to the start of another school year.

Maryland Schools Make U.S. News List of Top 2,000 Schools


Courtesy of Citybizlist – Fifty-four Maryland high schools made U.S. News and World Report‘s List of Top 2,000 Schools. The top seven were located in the Rockville and Bethesda areas.

Locally, the following schools made the Top 25 within Maryland:

Severna Park High School
Ranked 8 in Md.
Ranked 211 Nationally

Eastern Technical High School
Ranked 9 in Md.
Ranked 222 Nationally

George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology

Ranked 11 in Md.
Ranked 242 Nationally

Dulaney High School
Ranked 13 in Md.
Ranked 264 Nationally

Towson High School Law and Public Policy

Ranked 14 in Md.
Ranked 267 Nationally

Centennial High School
Ellicott City
Ranked 19 in Md.
Ranked 360 Nationally

See the entire Maryland list here.

Read U.S. News’ report here.

Read more at Citybizlist


Quiz Bowl at U of MD



The Yale team that won the academic competition the quiz bowl, which was held two weeks ago at the University of Maryland.


Slate posted last night a fascinating story about the quiz bowl, a national academic competition that took place two weeks ago at the University of Maryland, College Park.

An excerpt:

To its devotees, quiz bowl is less a trivia contest than an arms race. On one side are the keepers of the game, who calibrate their questions to reward true knowledge. On the other are the contestants, who pore over old tests in search of ways to beat the system. This back and forth between the shortcut eliminators and the shortcut seekers has made the game fun and challenging for aficionados. At the same time, it has likely warded off newcomers, those who prefer an occasional round of pub trivia to heated, internecine debates about what constitutes real knowledge.

Held two weeks ago at the University of Maryland, the Academic Competition Federation’s annual quiz bowl finale took place in the basement of an academic building. There was a Bring Your Own Buzzers policy, and the most valuable prize was a $40 plastic trophy. For most of the weekend, it sat next to a case of Pepsi.

Read The Super Bowl of the Mind at slate.com

Harder is Better


There is so much that goes into a high school student’s application to college: the transcript, the SAT/ACT scores, the essays, the extra-curriculars.  It’s hard to know what really counts – what the kids should focus on to improve their own chances.  Different schools are looking for different things, and those things can even change from year to year at any given college or university.  But one element seems to remain as the gold standard: grades.

“Research has shown high school GPA to be the number one predictor of success in college. But, let me be clear that all 4.0s are not created equal. It is all about academic rigor in high school course selection. And realistically, not all high schools are created equal either. There are great students at not so good schools and there are marginal students at superb schools. The students whom we seek are those who have “bloomed where they are planted,” demonstrating academic excellence, character and motivation wherever they are.” Martha Allman, dean of admissions at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Ms. Allman seems to be saying that the transcript is king, and the number is not a fixed asset – the good grade needs to be in the hardest course available to the student.  So, as your juniors are plotting out their fall semesters for senior year (as mine is now), you may want to encourage them to stretch – take the AP instead of the regular level, take the harder course over the elective that sounds fun.  It all seems so geared to the end game, which is a shame if you ask me, but if the end game is your child’s goal, make sure he or she understand the rules of engagement, and pushes for the big finish.  Coasting in senior year?  I don’t think so.