Local high schools score well on ACT

The state’s average composite ACT score for 2016 graduates came out to 20.8 — about one point lower than Monroe County schools — as schools move to SAT testing for college readiness.

The highest possible ACT composite score is a 36.

Gibault Catholic High School principal Russ Hart decided last week that snow cones were the perfect way to celebrate the 2016 graduating class’ high scores on the ACT.

Not only were students rewarded with an icy treat, but they could also take pride in the fact that their average composite score of 25.1 was the highest of any school in the metro east.

Pat Herzing, Gibault’s director of enrollment, said she was “pleased, excited and proud.” The results also show an improvement from the 2015 graduating class’ 24.8 average composite score.

“These results are, of course, the students’ results, but the faculty and parents prepped them for these results,” she added.

To prepare them for even better results next year, Herzing said the school will continue to challenge and demand excellence out of students. Herzing also said Gibault has a tradition of getting students to own their education.

As part of owning their education, the school will give students the flexibility to choose between taking the SAT or ACT next year. Only public schools receive state funding for college readiness exams.

Other area schools didn’t manage to score quite as high as Gibault on their average composite scores, but still beat the state average. Valmeyer High School’s 2016 graduating class received a 22.4 average composite score compared to the 2015 class’ 21.9.

Valmeyer superintendent Eric Frankford contributed scoring above the state average to an understanding that preparing for the ACT begins in kindergarten and carries through to high school.

“Any time we can score better than the average, we’re proud of that accomplishment,” he said.

Frankford said the school will look at students’ individual scores to assess the curriculum and make sure “there are no holes” as far as what needs to be taught. Additionally, the school will begin preparing for the SAT since the state will now fund that as a college entrance exam.

Frankford said Valmeyer is prepping “as best as we can” given the time frame.

However, if a lot of changes in the curriculum are needed, that would take more than a year to adjust.

“If it’s an evaluation of K-12, you can’t just pivot and change everything you do in a year,” he said.

One of the ways in which the school is preparing is recognizing the differences between the two tests. For instance, Frankford said the SAT tests students’ math abilities differently.

Dupo High School’s 2016 graduating class garnered an average composite ACT score of 19.1. While that score falls below the state average, the school continues to make improvements in college readiness.

Dupo superintendent Steve Smith mentioned to the Republic-Times that 87 percent of last year’s graduating seniors signed up for college, the military or some other form of continuing education.

“We’ve really been pushing higher expectations and better student outcomes,” he said.

Additionally, the 2016 class scored better than the 2015 class, which received an 18.5 average composite score. Smith also brought up the fact that the high school’s new guidance counselor Krystin Baker is pushing students to apply for more and more scholarships.

“We’re really trying to push that notion of, ‘You can do this as well,’” Smith said of getting students to set goals for after high school.

The high school also has the wheels spinning as far as exploring SAT prep for students.

The class of 2016 at Waterloo High School came out with an average composite score of 21.6 compared to the prior year’s 21.8, still a better showing than the state average. WHS principal Lori Costello said enthusiastically that students and staff deserve praise for the results.

“I am very proud of our students and staff,” Costello said. “All our teachers have worked very hard for several years to make sure that our curriculum aligns to the new Illinois learning standards. We have always felt that our student success is a district effort — pre-K through grade 12.”

Waterloo offered a five-week ACT prep course that met once a week for two hours per night. In addition, Costello said coursework aligns with what students need to take the test, as will be the case with the SAT.

“Any standardized test that is aligned to the new Illinois learning standards is going to be addressed because we follow the standards,” she said.

The school will begin offering SAT prep classes to prepare for the exam.

For Columbia High School, the 2016 class scored an average composite of 22.3, with the 2015 class scoring 22.5. CHS assistant principal Angela Huels said teachers put in a lot of effort to prepare students.

“Teachers work hard to prepare students for the test, because they understand the personal ramifications of the score,” she said. “Our teachers do their best to take care of kids. This is just one example.”

Columbia students were able take a Saturday morning test prep session for the ACT, and teachers sometimes offered test prep during class. Similar opportunities will unfold for CHS students with the SAT.

More information on the SAT is available online at collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


The Republic-Times has been Monroe County's hometown newspaper since 1890. Serving Columbia, Waterloo, Valmeyer, Hecker and every town in between, we strive to provide the news that matters most to you in the timeliest manner possible. For more information on subscribing to the Republic-Times, call 939-3814 or visit the "Subscribe" page on this website.
HTC web