West Aurora seeing the results from its revised ACT approach
By Matt Brennan For The Beacon-News October 23, 2012 1:08PM
Rudy Keller is co-principal at West Aurora High School.
Updated: November 25, 2012 11:29AM
AURORA — The West Aurora class of 2012 recorded a composite score of 19.0 on the ACT, the lowest score of any class since 1998.
Co-principals Rudy Keller and Ross Truemper told the West Aurora School Board this week that they put several interventions in place, so that the class of 2013 could improve the school’s composite score. When the 2013 class took the test last spring as juniors, they scored a 19.7 composite, an improvement that both principals were happy with.
“Our staff was magnificent,” Keller said. “They worked very hard to help our students succeed.”
Keller and Truemper spoke to the School Board as part of an annual School Improvement meeting, where the board receives a progress report from each school principal in the district.
West Aurora High School staff took several measures to improve scores. ACT specialists worked with students in study halls. ACT practice classes were offered at nights and on the weekends. Teachers incorporated ACT strategies into their lessons on a regular basis. Vocabulary words and definitions were posted at various locations around the school.
Staff also talked with students in study halls to find out what some more effective ways to prepare for the test might be.
“I really, highly value the interview process with the students,” Truemper said.
The results revealed themselves as the class of 2013 unofficial results came in. Scores in all four segments of testing — English, math, reading and science — improved. Students who enrolled in the evening and weekend ACT classes saw an average gain of 2.4 points.
In addition to the low scores from the class of 2012 as a motivator, science scores were beginning to warrant some concern over recent years. The district measures student results to testing in these areas from 8th grade, until they take the ACT’s their junior year.
Science scores did improve in that time period, but they grew at a slower rate than the other three ACT subject areas. Part of the reason for the slower growth in science could be that it is the last test taken out of the four subjects, educators said. There’s also more vocabulary involved than with other subjects.
Keller offered a potential fix for the problem — students need to be taking more of the classes that will benefit in the core academic areas.
“What we need to do is have more students take the classes, and take the right kind of classes,” he said.