October 18, 2017

Costa should upgrade standardized testing services

Worthy test preparation services are expensive, and cheap alternatives are hard to come by. Mira Costa should have had implemented classes that provided students with cheap test preparation.

Staff Editorial

Across the country, students prepare for the American College Testing and the Scholastic Assessment Test during their high school years. In order to make adequate preparation for these standardized tests more accessible, Mira Costa should enhance its current standardized testing services by offering ACT/SAT tutoring to students.

Costa offers ACT and SAT test preparation by renting out practice books and offering free practice tests through the College and Career Center. However, this test preparation is not as effective as tutoring sessions available elsewhere in the South Bay that provide specific tutoring services, co-founder of Study Hut, a South Bay tutoring service, Robert Stone said. These tutoring sessions can be beneficial to students, shown by the fact that from one-on-one sessions, many ACT students make jumps of eight points or more, and SAT students have shown consistent improvements of 200 to 300 points, Stone said.

Photos: Examples of ACT tutoring through Study Hut.

According to Study Hut, its average package deal for one-on-one high-end tutoring is $2,500. Group tutoring, costing an average of $900, can also provide students with specific assistance on the test, but at a more reasonable price.

However, despite the positive aspects of tutoring, the costs for the best-possible sessions are quite expensive. As a result of the extremely large costs, many families may not be able to afford these extra services. Therefore, Costa should offer a test-prep course of its own for students to accommodate those who aren’t capable of financing private tutoring.

Taking practice tests is beneficial  for students, but they will gain a better understanding of the curriculum and their mistakes through review sessions and conversations with a tutor, Stone said. Therefore, although Costa’s existing program is a step in the right direction to adequately prepare students, simply taking practice tests does not amount to the  hands-on teaching of the subjects in detail that an actual tutoring class would offer students, Stone said.

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At Palos Verdes High School, the school has integrated the Advancement Via Individual Determination Program, a free, one week ACT/SAT in-school service. Through AVID, the school partners with tutoring services to provide standardized testing preparation to students during their sophomore and junior years, according to the PVHS website. Superintendant Dr. Michael Matthews stated that he is in support of the AVID program due to its mentoring and tutoring services. Thus, integrating this program into Costa’s curriculum would not only be cost-effective but also advantageous for students.

As shown by La Vista’s survey of 200 students, 64% of the respondents would take an elective course modeled after the AVID concept. Costa students are interested in an improved standardized testing services at Costa. Evidently, the school should open the conversation about creating a full elective class to meet students’ needs.

Mira Costa’s test preparation programs need to provide more effective tutoring to students who cannot afford to purchase private services. Although the resources offered by the CCC are convenient to students, an improved test preparation service would allow the CCC to rival costly private tutoring venues.

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