Naperville school district SAT scores rank top in state

Max Walts, News Editor

Naperville schools once again performed well on standardized testing. Naperville Central, which required the SAT schoolwide for the first time last year, has ranked second in the state according to the College Board.

Central earned the second-highest public high school average score of 1186.8, followed by Naperville North with a score of 1175.8. The average score in the state was 1015.3. The statewide switch from ACT to SAT, which caused controversy among the student body in 2015, also caused trouble for parents and district faculty.

Karen Lemanski, director of Student Services, was a part of the initiative to make the switch.

“Understanding the differences in the scores I think was kind of a hard transition for all of us, actually, because even the counselors are more used to the data from ACT,” Lemanski said.

While the transition was difficult for many involved, Central still achieved proficiency.

According to district officials, this is because there have been changes to align curriculum with the Common Core.

“The SAT tests [align] more to the Common Core, and I think that’s why we did well,” Lemanski said.

There are other ways that the district has prepared students for the SAT.

“Now our lower grades are going to be taking the PSAT, so I think we are going to see more and more kids preferring the SAT, feeling more comfortable with the SAT and performing better on the SAT,” Lemanski said.

In addition to the PSAT, Central students have learned effective testing skills by taking PARCC tests from third to eighth grade.

These results show that Central students are significantly more proficient in math and English than the average student. Relative to the national average, Central students are 30 percent more proficient in English and language arts and 35 percent more proficient in math.

These scores came as no surprise to district officials, because Naperville school districts have a long history of high standardized test scores.

“It is typical for [Central] to outperform the state,” said Jackie Thornton, assistant principal for curriculum and instruction.

Other schools in the district ranked among the top along with Central. According to Thornton, this is because of the successful coordinated effort to implement SAT prep with the Common Core.

“When [this group of students] did PARCC [they] were first in state,” Thornton said.

These results indicate that Central’s student body has successfully begun the transition from the ACT series. This
year’s sophomores are the last who will take the practice ACT.