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2011 ACT scores show low college readiness percentages

Durva Trivedi

Nationally, only 25 percent of 2011 test-takers met the ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks. In District 203, 53 percent were deemed college ready by these same standards, and at Naperville Central specifically, 51 percent scored at or above the benchmarks.

Comparing Central’s numbers with the national percentages is reassuring, said Assistant Principal Jackie Thornton.

“There’s a big difference between college eligible and college ready,” said Thornton. “In a regular college course, being ‘college ready’ means a student has a 50 percent chance of getting a B in the class.”

By this ACT definition, roughly half of Central’s graduating seniors from last year were ready for college courses in every subject.

Ninety-five percent of those same seniors are now enrolled in college courses.

According to a Chicago Tribune article published on Aug. 31, students who achieve a B average throughout high school tend to have a C+ average in their freshman year of college. It’s important to remember, however, that non-academic factors may also contribute to this decline of GPA for college freshmen.

For this and other reasons, school administrators do not set academic goals for Central’s student body based solely on ACT results.

Administrators are trying to create a curriculum that helps students meet standards for adequate yearly progress based on the PSAE exam taken by juniors every spring.

According to Thornton, over a 10-year period, Central has seen a decline in reading scores.

“The problem is we do so much to support student reading that when kids go to college and they don’t have teachers providing that help, they have trouble,” said Thornton.

Most students need to be more self-directed, she said.

Plans are in place to revise the curriculum for the 2014-2015 school year when state assessments will change.

“I don’t think we’ll find significant changes, just tweaks,” Thornton said.

The goal is to help more students meet state and national standards.

While these changes will affect the entire student body, there are always a select few students who perform very well on the ACT and other standardized tests.

Last year, 12 seniors from the graduating class achieved a perfect score of 36. From the Class of 2012, Emily Su is the only student so far who has gotten a perfect score.

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