Sunday, November 21, 2010

Our CLEP adventure hits another snag

Longtime readers might remember that my second Sam is trying to accumulate college credits while still in high school by taking CLEP tests. Since Sam had a pretty good foundation in American History,  we started with the CLEP test in American History I and after months of study, he did not pass. 

After that  I decided that Sam needed a little more help and encouragement than I could give him, and I signed up for College Plus.  I have to say it has been helpful.  Due to the College Plus materials, he has improved his reading speed and study skills.  He also has been able to develop a Life Plan with their materials. His College Plus coach calls him every two weeks to check up on his status and give advice and encouragement. He has really enjoyed it.

His College Plus coach, Jonathon, suggested that Sam take the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP exam. I thought this might be a good fit for Sam. Afterall I had him read some Shakespeare last year and he had read a lot of American Literature including Moby Dick, the Scarlet Letter, Common Sense, and Huck Finn. If anything I think we had been more deficient with poetry, although we did read the Sonnets. It's also supposed to be one of the easier CLEP tests to practice.  The CLEP group on Yahoo only has the student prepare for two weeks before taking the test.

So armed with his REA book , Sam studied for the test.  A passing grade on the CLEP tests is a scale of 50.  I'm not really clear on how they come up with this but the lowest range on the test is 20 and the highest is 80. (The score Sam got on the failed exam was 42.)  In the practice tests Sam took he kept getting 50s.  Once he got a 53, but that was his second time through that particular exam. He made flash cards, he read more poetry - still a solid 50.  College Plus really likes you to have about 60 before you go in to take a CLEP test, but Sam felt he was ready and from reading some of the other testimonials on line, it seemed like we might have a shot.

As a parent, I'm just needed to go in and pay the fee to the testing center (about $27) and then give my student my debit card so he can pay online for the test (about $77 but I'll know for sure when I look at my account.)  And then I can wait or I can go home or go shopping for two hours.  I went home and did some typing and came back two hours later to pick Sam up.

When he came out of the little testing room I looked at his face.  I thought,  he had either failed, or he was trying to fake me out into thinking he had failed. It turns out it was none of the above.  The computer asked him  if he wanted to submit his scores and he pressed yes.  But when the screen opened up with an "are you sure you want to submit your scores?" he second guessed himself and pressed no. Bottom line is the test went into limbo without being scored.

One of the secretaries heard us talking about and heard the alarm in my voice.  She quickly rose to reassure me that she might be able to retrieve the score. Sure enough, a few minutes later she came back with a transcript that showed a passing score of 59!  I was thrilled.  Sam was so happy!  We high-fived and started walking down the hallway.  One of the administrators from the college saw us happily walking down the hallway and he asked to see our score and then gave us a hearty congratulations!  We were so happy and so relieved! 

But then my eye looked up and saw the last four digits of the social weren't Sam's.  Looking up a little higher on the paper I noted the birth date ended in 1994!  Sam was born in 1993.  I quickly put on my reading glasses and was dismayed to see that this was someone else's transcript!  It wasn't even for Analyzing literature.

Somewhat confused and now highly annoyed I went back to the office and gave them the transcript.  Turns out that at least for now, the score was just lost in the computer system. 

Not willing to forfeit my money that easily, I got online to find the number for the CLEP offices and was able to speak with a nice gentleman who opened a case and case number for us.  He said when the university sent over all of their data that night he would be able to retrieve the information, and have it scored. He would then send the transcript to our home.  Usually, he said, this would take 5 to 7 days.  He should I should get it in about two weeks.  Figures.

In the meantime I want Sam just to concentrate on his PreCalc, Spanish II and Science and maybe start brushing off the American History again.  I really think this is a good system - if only I could get Sam to just pass one, I'm sure he would feel more confident.

In the meantime I am ramping up the reading and the testing for Gabe and Noah as I think these will both be so helpful for them when hopefully they can start taking these tests in a few years.



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