Exit Exams Are Coming!

laptopsThis past August it was widely reported that in the spring of 2014, more than 200 colleges and universities will administer the Collegiate Learning Assessment Plus (CLA+) presented by the Council for Aid to Education, a non-profit organization “committed to helping educational institutions measure and improve learning outcomes for their students.” The exam seeks to assess the critical thinking and communication skills of college students.

Why should you, parents of children in ECC through eighth grade at Hillel, care about a college exit exam that is years away for your children?

This exit exam comes as a result of several surveys by Hart Research Associates where they polled employers about the college graduates they were interviewing and hiring. The majority of the employers were dismayed at the inadequate preparation of college students. The employers were far more interested in the recent graduates’ capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems in a real-world setting than in their GPAs or even their college majors.

The results of this new exam, which will assess these valued skills, will be available to graduates when interviewing for jobs and may also be required by potential employers.

Why should you care about a college exit exam when your children are years away from even attending college?

These essential skills can and should be taught long before college, beginning in elementary school, middle school and high school.

We, at Hillel, have been speaking about the critical importance of these skills for our children in the 21st century for several years. Our membership in EdLeader21, our total integration of technology in all grades, two teachers in every elementary classroom, and our current work on curriculum and instruction all reflect our commitment to fostering the very skills that many colleges and universities will now be assessing before graduation.

Our goal for our students is not merely their GPA. Rather, our focus is on learning and the skills needed for today’s world: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. We also believe that our children need to be grounded: in core Jewish values, in character education, in commitment to community. At Hillel, our core content areas become the vehicle for developing these essential seven skills.

We are proud to have been raising these pertinent issues and addressing them before they started to get traction in the mainstream media. Hillel’s dual curriculum offers an education that is not only about literacy, competencies, and becoming an informed and participatory citizen and member of the Jewish community; it is also about preparing our children to be successful in the global economy.

So,

Why should you care NOW about a college exit exam, why should you care about these essential skills when your children are years away from even attending college or interviewing for jobs?

Because NOW is the time to start learning these skills.

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