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5 Ways to Boost School Success in the New Year

As students return from winter break and begin to settle back into an academic routine, there is always hope that the holidays provided ample time to relax and recharge so that the new year kicks off with a renewed sense of academic motivation. Although a highly motivated student is much more likely to achieve performance gains than their less-motivated counterparts, enhanced motivation is just one way to boost school success throughout the year.

Families and students interested in discovering additional methods for ensuring academic success should consider each of the five strategies that follow, as each strategy is especially useful in the development of a comprehensive and results-oriented approach to improved performance across all academic subjects.

An Increased Focus on Competency-Based Learning

Competency-based learning encourages a flexible approach to education in which learning goals are specifically structured according to each individual student’s current academic strengths and weaknesses. In essence, this is a more personalized approach that emphasizes academic progress based on the unique needs of each student, resulting in a greater degree of success for those exposed to a competency-based learning style.

Improved Access to Relevant Technological Tools

Although technology has always played a critical role in education, current students have a greater need than ever before to be exposed to the most current technological tools. Improved access to these tools is especially helpful in developing the technological literacy necessary for success at institutions of higher learning as well as any future professional environment.

One-on-One or Small-Group Educational Settings

In the same way that competency-based learning emphasizes a highly personalized approach to education, the availability of one-on-one or small-group learning settings ensures that each student’s specific academic needs are properly addressed in a manner that yields measurable results.

Implementation of Specific Test-Taking Strategies

Simply mastering the content expected to appear on an upcoming exam will not necessarily guarantee a student will achieve a score that is reflective of their actual level of academic mastery. This is especially true in high-stress circumstances such as midterms, finals, and standardized tests. In addition to content mastery, students should learn how to implement a wide range of test-taking strategies that help ensure they perform to the best of their ability.

Consistent Academic Support From Multiple Sources

Students often perform at their best when they can count on the support of educational professionals as well as friends and family. Cultivating multiple sources of academic support — current teachers, tutors, family members, classmates, and others — ensures that a student always has someone to whom they can turn for academic guidance, which can have an obvious and significant impact on academic success.

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Ask Groza – Does My Kid Have ADHD?

This article originally appeared in the Palisadian Post on March 17, 2016.

Ask Groza
Each month, Scott Groza, Director / Co-Founder of Groza Learning Center and private school Groza Academy, answers parent questions regarding their student’s education. Have a question? Send to

Does My Kid Have ADHD?

A common question people have when they walk into my office is, “Does my kid have ADHD?” The conversation starts with, “My kid’s struggling in school. He’s scattered. He’s not remembering his books. He’s checked out in class. Do you think he has ADHD?” And of course the first thing I always say is that we don’t diagnose, but getting a diagnosis is where you’d start if you want to find out. Connecting with an educational psychologist or neuropsychologist for testing is the next step in getting a diagnosis.

Then I share what we’ve observed from years of working with students who have been officially diagnosed. First, just because a student is impulsive doesn’t mean he has ADHD. I like to say there are kids who are simply born with “ants in their pants.” They’re kids; they might just be more interested in other things at this moment than school and homework. Impulsivity does not make an ADHD diagnosis inevitable.

Secondly, on the flip side, just because a kid can focus on activities he likes for extended periods of time, like video games or art, doesn’t mean he’s intentionally blowing off his homework. He actually may be showing signs of inattention. ADHD can be present even when a student demonstrates the ability to focus on “selective” things. In fact, a classic sign of ADHD is when you’re able to focus on things you like that aren’t tedious, but unable to focus when it comes to things that aren’t easy or interesting.

The third thing I share involves “executive functioning.” This is a big umbrella term for the metacognitive processes that allow humans to organize and store information and execute imperatives. Often times ADHD impacts these executive functioning processes and that’s why you have kids who are intelligent but “all over the place.”

Finally, I make it a point to emphasize that an ADHD diagnosis is relatively prevalent these days and it is not the end of the world. It in no way means that your kid is going to be unable to succeed in life, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it does mean that academics will be more difficult. So making a plan is imperative for school success.

So What Do You Do If You Have a Diagnosis?

While there are usually many different recommendations found in the pages of a neuropsychological testing report, medication and educational therapy are two recommended resources that I’m most frequently asked about.

1. Medication: No one wants to start doling out meds to their kid. However, when attentional challenges start to impact quality of life, it may be worth having a conversation with a doctor about treatment options- management by a psychiatrist is usually best. Anytime you start an ADHD medication it’s going to be a trial and error process to some extent because you never know how the meds will interact with the body chemistry of the child. Side effects may occur, affecting things like mood and appetite, and some brands work better than others for particular kids. Sometimes it’s a silver bullet that works wonders (they usually do mitigate symptoms); other times, results are underwhelming.
2. Educational Therapy: For families who cannot include medication as an option or who want to try non-pharmaceutical interventions, there are educational therapists who specialize in equipping students with new and more effective metacognitive strategies.

That’s all we have time for in this episode of Ask Groza, but we have so much more to share with you next time. In the meantime, take heart. There are so many things you can do to help your awesome kid with ADHD thrive!

Stay tuned for next month’s follow up article: How Do I Work with My ADHD Kid?
Scott Groza, Director / Co-Founder of Groza Learning Center and Groza Academy, finds deep meaning in helping kids and parents successfully navigate the challenging world of academics. With a strong commitment to each student, team building, innovation, and individualized learning, he and his wife Christy Groza have created a multi-faceted educational company that specializes in Tutoring, Test Preparation, Reading Programs, and Private Schooling. The couple is thankful to have four children of their own and enjoys the wild adventure of parenting. Groza Learning Center and Groza Academy are based in Pacific Palisades, and have served the community for nearly 10 years.

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SAT vs ACT – Which Test Is Right For Me?

Now, with the redesigned SAT being new and more similar to the ACT, how do you choose the test that’s right for you?

In order to help you answer this question, we’ve performed an in-depth analysis of the structures and objectives of the tests. We started by breaking the questions down into the most practical and essential of categories from a student approach perspective, and then compared across tests to hone in on the subtle but useful distinctions. This gave us a ton of insight, which we translated into a questionnaire you can use to help yourself choose your test.

With the questionnaire tool in the bag for you, we also wanted to take it a step further and give you a nutshell impression of the distinctions. Here it is, in a nutshell…

ACT = the what + a speed challenge
SAT = the what + the how & why

The What

What we mean when we say the what is the straightforward kind of answers you’ve been working out since kindergarten… what is this story about? … what is the number that results when you solve this math problem?

The Speed Challenge

The ACT is mostly focused on the what, but raises the challenge level by giving you a lot of questions to answer in the given time limit.

The How & Why

The redesigned SAT raises the challenge level in a different way. It questions for the what and then stretches critical thinking muscles you may not know you have, with questions about the how & why. These questions require you to figure out such things as how to set up a math problem from the given information, how the author proves her point, and why the author includes the given word, phrase or paragraph.

Making Your Choice

Start with our handy SAT vs ACT test selection questionnaire to see if there’s a strong lean in one direction or the other. And then try both tests.

Why Try The Redesigned SAT?

Since the SAT’s how & why design includes question types you may have never encountered before, don’t write them off as difficult without trying them first. You may have a natural gift or aptitude for this kind of thinking and not even know it. And if you do, you have an opportunity to stand out among your peers with this test. So take the redesigned SAT out for a test drive and see if you get the smoothest ride that the latest in test innovation can provide.

Why Try The Tried and True ACT?

Perhaps, the speed challenge on the ACT is no match for your focus and determination. Perhaps putting data analysis in the context of science makes so much more sense to you than it does when it’s just math mumbo jumbo. Perhaps alternating between dense reading and math/science topics keeps you fresh and focused. You never know, until you try. So go kick the tires on that classic ACT and see if its got the wheels for you.

Let us know if you’d like to receive our ACT vs SAT questionnaire.  And always feel free to reach out with any questions as you make your college prep plan. 310-454-3731.


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Why is Everyone Afraid of the New SAT?

Test prep is a tricky, nuanced journey. There are always these standardized tests students must contend with when they apply to the colleges and universities of their dreams each year. In most cases, they arrive at a crossroads- students must pick their poison, choosing either the ACT or SAT.

In an effort to align with Common Core, address the criticisms of its prior test formula, and take back some market share from the ACT, this year, the SAT has been totally redesigned and the new test form will be given for the first time on March 5, 2016. Ironically, in many ways, it feels much more like the ACT (which is unchanged for 2016, except for the essay).   However, both tests offer distinct advantages for different types of test takers. And colleges take both exams without partiality.

This begs the question: ACT or New SAT?

The word on the street seems to be, avoid the New SAT like the plague- play it safe and stick with the ACT. The two primary reasons usually given are: because it is more known and there are more resources out there to use for practice. But is this the most thoughtful approach to deciding which test to take? Let’s address both concerns.

Is the New SAT knowable? The College Board has released a 210 page blueprint document for the New SAT along with 4 practice tests. While any standardized test will evolve to some extent, there is certainly official information that has been released that gives us a clear picture of what the New SAT will look like. We are not left to navigate the New SAT in the dark!

Are there enough resources? There are the ones published by the College Board. In addition, other major test prep bookmakers have already begun publishing the usual thick prep books based on these new releases. Of course, there are more prep resources for the ACT because it’s been around longer, but let’s look beyond that.

The major take away is, these tests are both scaled! Students are competing against their peers, not a raw score. So, since everyone is working with mostly the same available resources, it really doesn’t matter that a test is new. The difference is what the student does with those available resources and how they prepare. For the right type of student, there is a real opportunity to do well with the New SAT while others are shying away.

Bottom line: Keep your options open! Both the ACT and the New SAT should be equal, viable contenders when choosing a test for college admissions.

A knee-jerk dismissal of either test will not serve the student well, rather, it is imperative to thoughtfully consider both tests. Commit to one. And most importantly, have a great preparation plan in place- whether working with a tutor, attending a class, or doing self-prep.

Next step: Ready to do some more research on ACT vs. NewSAT?

For a free guide, ACT vs. New SAT- Which to Choose? email us.
Groza will host a presentation at its offices, 881 Alma Real #115, to discuss ACT vs. New SAT- Which to Choose? on Tuesday, January 12 @ 7:00 pm. Space is limited; RSVP here for ACT vs New SAT Presentation.

Posted in 2015 | Comments Off on Why is Everyone Afraid of the New SAT?

The power is on and school is in

Info on the 2 hour power outage today:

Kids are feeling the finals crunch after LAUSD school closings:

Take care,

Scott & Christy Groza


Posted in 2015 | Comments Off on The power is on and school is in

It’s that time of year- FINALS!

Good luck to all the students preparing for end of year finals. We are here if you need us to help make or execute your preparation plan. Happy studying!

Posted in 2015 | Comments Off on It’s that time of year- FINALS!