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Dist. 300 touts higher ACT scores, other measures of student success

Updated: September 29, 2012 6:07AM

ALGONQUIN — Community Unit School District 300 students reached an average composite ACT score of 21 for the first time in 2012, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning for Secondary Schools Ben Churchill announced Monday.

And, for the first time, their scores exceeded the average across all Illinois schools on the college entrance exam, Churchill said.

He presented those ACT scores Monday night at the District 300 Board of Education meeting.

“We’re here to talk about ACT scores because that’s the data point that has been most recently released,” Churchill said.

“But I really want to highlight that we can’t talk about just one data point. We do what we can with the data points we have.”

Those scores were released to school districts last week and showed average composite scores across the state holding steady at 20.9, the highest of the nine states that administer the exam to all graduating high school students.

A total of 36 points are possible in each of the four sections of the ACT, averaged to calculate the composite score.

Overall, Illinois’ highest scores were in math and the lowest in English. The percentage of students meeting all four of the test’s College Readiness Benchmarks increased from 23 percent last year to 25 percent this year.

District 300’s scores similarly were highest in math and lowest in English, matching the state’s English and reading scores, according to Churchill. Still, students’ scores increased in all four sections of the exam, which also include a science section, and at all three high schools in the district, according to the presentation. And 26 percent of students in the Carpentersville-based school district tested college-ready on al four, he said.

 Jacobs High School in Algonquin saw the most dramatic jump in its composite scores: 1.7 points to an average composite of 22.7.

But, Churchill said, “Rather than looking at only the ACT, I really hope to paint a broader picture of student success.”

Against conventional wisdom, he noted, Dundee-Crown High School students’ ACT scores have stayed fairly steady over the past five years even as the number of students considered low-income at the Carpentersville school has increased 14 percent.

He also pointed out the number of high school students in AP classes has increased from 367 in the 2007-08 school to 545 in the 2011-12 school year. Again against conventional wisdom, Churchill said, all those students are performing better: They took 27 more exams than the year before (a total 795) and scored a three or higher on 32 more of those tests (a total 420).

And while only 26 percent of students’ scores meet all four College Readiness Benchmarks, he said, 63 percent of District 300 students go directly to college after graduation. That’s the same as the national average and above the state average of 57 percent.

Of those students from the district, 87 percent return to college for a second year, Churchill said. That’s above both the national (66 percent) and Midwest regional (79 percent) averages, he said.

And, he said, District 300 students were awarded $13 million in scholarships last school year.

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