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No AP entrance tests

by Nathan Seidman

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Coming after school to take an entrance test for AP classes is a thing of the past. Lincoln staff has made the decision to discontinue  entrance tests to AP classes in an effort to make the classes available to more people, and make the admissions process less subjective by looking at GPA, standardized tests, and attendance as opposed to teacher recommendations, a vocabulary and grammar test and an essay.
    Assistant Principal Susan Akram states that the administration is abolishing the entrance tests “because the process has become too subjective, and there is a conflict of interest when teachers select the students to be in their classes.”
Additionally, Akram maintains that “basing admissions on GPA and standardized test scores is less subject to bias than using an essay and teacher recommendations to determine admissions.”
AP Government teacher Valerie Ziegler disagrees wholeheartedly with the new admissions system. She has two main arguments in favor of the entrance tests. “Number one, it shows that the student at least cared enough to show up for the test, and by extension they cared enough to be in the class. Number two, it showed us your ability to read a college textbook, the expectation being that students in a college level class can read at a college level.”
Akram believes that GPA, attendance, and standardized test scores are enough to determine admissions to AP classes. She says “a main problem with the old admissions system is that it was too subjective and placed too much power in the hands of the teachers, and this led to classes being less diverse. This year, admissions will be determined by myself and and a counselor in the school. This is to prevent teachers from just admitting the students they already know.”
Ms. Gratch, an Honors English teacher and English Department Head objects to the lack of an essay. Gratch exclaims “The essay is really important, especially for English classes! We have no data on the students’ writing abilities without the essay. That was really important to us to get a sense of, not just your reading abilities, but your writing abilities as well in a timed situation.”
Nevertheless, next year AP classes will not require admission exams, and admittance will be based on GPA, attendance, and standardized test scores.


Seniors denied admission to the happiest place on Earth

by Christine Ong

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After a long ceremony of speeches, music and procession, graduating seniors crave a fun and adventurous night to celebrate old memories and create new ones. However, celebrating in Disneyland, the place where dreams come true, the source of magical childhood memories and lively characters, will not be a possibility this year.

Disney Grad Night has taken place a few times throughout the past decade, but it is not an annual Lincoln tradition. When it does happen, students and chaperones ride in buses down to Disneyland on graduation day and spend a day and a half exploring the park.     This year the trip was not allowed due to conflicts with the school district. Overnight field trips are only allowed if they are educational, and a graduation night field trip wasn’t allowed until after the seniors had graduated.

Disneyland sets the date for Grad Night, and this year’s date was on Memorial Day weekend, before Lincoln’s graduation on May 28, making the trip not allowed. Dates after May 28 were proposed, but Disneyland was unavailable, and the father back the dates were, the less students were interested in attending.

"We started talking to some of the students, and they weren't psyched about giving up their vacation to go a week later on this trip," says Christian Geiser, one of the sponsors for the class of 2014.  

In addition to scheduling conflicts, not enough adults were available to chaperone the trip. Valerie Ziegler, the co-class sponsor, is unavailable after graduation, and all other prospective chaperones were unavailable.

"Most of the faculty, we can't even get them to chaperone a dance let alone be on a bus for a day and a half," says Geiser.

Eventually, the sponsors decided that the trip was logistically not going to work.

"We didn't even have necessarily the total buy in from the people who wanted it," Geiser continues.   

The money originally used to fund grad night will help fund the senior dinner dance. "We're takin’ it off-campus. You guys are going to have a nice view; we're steppin' it up! Yes!" says Geiser. Normally the dance is located in the North Gym, but this year it will be located at the Presidio.

"It's going to be a very nice venue overlooking the Bay, better than the North Gym!" says Geiser. "It's going to spur romance."


New smarter balance test: enough computers?


by Jasprit Samra

This is the final year for the California Standards Test. California is replacing the CST with the new Smarter Balanced Assessment. This year’s juniors will have to take the new Smarter Balanced Assessment and the CST.

Juniors will take the new test on April 14 to 18. Juniors and sophomores still take the CST on April 14-15.               

Only juniors will take the Smarter Balanced Assessment because they are testing if the test works. This means that, at this time, the state does not plan to share student results. 

On October 2013, the state of California replaced the CST program with the new Statewide Assessment System. SFUSD, along with all California school districts, is required to test its students with this new system starting this spring.

“The Smarter Balanced Assessment measures student progress towards college-readiness. The test is guided by the belief that an assessment system can provide information for teachers and schools to improve instruction and help students succeed,” states the smarter balance website.                                                           

As this is the first year that Lincoln and all other schools will start the new Smarter Balanced Assessment, Lincoln will have to prepare by scheduling and making sure we have enough computers. The Smarter Balanced test will be taken online unlike the CST.

Currently only juniors will take this test, so the number of computers shouldn’t be a problem this year according to Susan Akram         , assistant principle. She said, “We will set up a schedule, so [we will use] 3 labs for most days. Right now for this year we will be okay. Juniors will take either English or math.”

“Next year will be a problem. The school is going to buy a mobile lab.” She continues, “[A mobile lab is] a cart of computers, everyone in the class can use. Those will be used for the test.”

Akram says that the Smarter Balanced test will be during class. There is no special bell schedule. There is a senior meeting with Mr. Payne on Tuesday.

"Smarter Balanced Assessment [is a] computer adaptive test, [which] means when you answer one question and you get it right or wrong it will impact the test, so no test will be the same” Akram states. This means that every test will be different and this will stop cheating.

Shamira Gratch, department head of English says, “This year, this test is taking six days off of eleventh grade English classes. I hope next year scheduling will be better because this is a pilot. Using the computer lab will be tough because it is not available.”

“It seems like a better test in terms of what we teach in the classroom,” Gratch added.

“The curriculum is tough. This one [test] is going to be very different for teachers to teach,” says Susan Kelly, department head of mathematics.

“This may be very hard for some students to do because some of the questions want the kids to do more thinking. They [the tests] are pretty intense, you really have to know it. It’s not the lower level skills. It’s the high level skills. That’s harder for some teachers and students,” says Kelly.

 Kelly continues, “It is going to be hard because of logistics. The tests are given on computers. We are going to need a lot of bandwidth so all the kids can take the test at the same time. We can do that on some of the Advanced Placement tests. We have never done it with as many people taking the Smarter Balanced test, which is a hundred percent of the juniors. This year we will break classes into smaller groups because we can’t do it all at once. We are giving one fourth of it, I think, to the juniors.”    

The math big task is the Smarter Balanced Assessment’s math test. “The math big task is so big that they have a class to teach you about the problems before they have the test. We are going to try to ask more questions like these types of questions. We just need to give the students the real thing,” Kelley said.

“The test is harder than the CST because it is a three year test,” Kelly continues. “The CST is only for one class. This test puts three years of math into one test,” Kelly said.”

“I’m excited and scared because it would be nice to be doing interesting and challenging math, what you really want your students to do. It’s very scary because it is very hard work because its high level,” Kelley concluded.