Rockford schools fail to make the grade when it comes to college readiness. Illinois requires all students take the ACT, a test college often use to decide who gets in and who does not. New statistics show the state is top among eight other state that test 100 percent of their students. But District 205 is a full two points behind the state average.
"We understood to get a higher ACT score we had to change our course sequence and we have encouraged all students to take three years of math and three years of science and in doing that we have the curriculum here it is a matter of getting students to take the right sequence of courses," says Martha Hayes, Rockford School District, assistant superintendent for learning.
Hayes says this idea is not new. It went before the school board earlier this year and then letters were sent home to parents of incoming freshmen to stress the importance of course sequence.
This year Rockford ACT average was 18.9 out of a possible 36. It is the same score it received last year. The Illinois composition score is 20.9, also the same as last year. Hononegah School District's average score has been on the rise over the last five years. This year the average was 22.9.
"We do some guiding activities that kind of prepare them for the ACT, we have ACT style test questions on some of their summated and formative assessments. We offer sometime outside of school for teachers to meet and help with ACT type of resources for students," says Todd Hencsik, Hononegah High School principal.
An ACT prep instructor for Rock Valley College says doing well on the test doesn't necessarily mean a student is going to do better in college.
"If you take a course and learn how to take the test compared to a kid who doesn't with the same knowledge you definitely end up scoring a lot better. So it doesn't mean you are a better student or smarter, it just means you are more prepared for it," says Mark Anderson.
Rockford leaders say students who took three years science before the ACT scored an average of 1.5 points higher. This school year all incoming freshmen will be required to take an increased number of science course in order to graduate.
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