How will my son perform academically in college? How much of an academic scholarship can my daughter expect? How do high schools compare academically? The answer to all of these questions is the same: check ACT scores, one indicator used to compare academic standards.
Compared to other local high schools and the state of Illinois, Illiana Christian High School does an outstanding job of preparing its students to score well on the ACT. This past year, although the average state score for the ACT composite was 20.6, Illiana’s composite score was 23.7 with 95 percent of the students taking the test. Illiana is proud that almost all of its students take the ACT test and that their high composite score is based on all students, not just the Honors/AP students.
This reflects well on the ACT preparation that Illiana offers for all students. All students are encouraged to take the Illiana ACT Coaching provided by faculty members or to take a standardized test preparation course from a reputable organization.
But even more important than the coaching or test prep courses is having Illiana’s faculty buy into the crucial role they play in what is taught and emphasized every day in the classroom through the chosen curriculum. In the last few years, Illiana has developed a step-by-step plan which focuses on improving ACT test scores throughout the curriculum.
Rachel Drost, social studies teacher at Illiana, was in charge of the plan’s development and implemented what she learned from Wendy Zdeb-Roper at a teachers’ convention. She explains the process in this way:
Illiana started with facts about the Explore, Plan, and ACT. All staff members acquired a working knowledge of how the tests build on each other along with what the test questions contain and what they look like.
The teachers worked in departments to evaluate Illiana’s most recent item summary reports. They used the summary report (for Explore and Plan) and copies of the test to analyze the actual items.
Teachers then created strength/weakness t-charts, cutting out test items as examples from both the Explore and Plan. They compared the items to see if there were matches from test to test.
Special attention was paid to sub-group weaknesses; these items were highlighted.
Teachers determined where these items are being addressed in the curriculum and what instructional strategies are being used to teach them.
Each department shared its strengths/weaknesses in each area with the whole staff.
The faculty then discussed what would be done next to address the areas of weakness, setting school improvement goals that would help Illiana to get there. They looked at subgroup weaknesses for gap analysis and additional goals.
So what were the results? Was all this work by the Illiana faculty worth it? Absolutely! Illiana produced the best ACT test results in five years across the four tests as well as the composite score. The best composite score before the 2013 graduation year was 23.3, and this year’s composite score was 23.7.
If you are looking for a high school that is proactive about test scores and preparing students for higher education, please check out Illiana Christian High School. Students and parents are welcome to our Preview Night at 7 p.m. Dec. 5 at the high school, 2261 Indiana Ave. in Lansing. Come and see our amazing school in action. Please contact me for more information or if you would like a tour of our campus.