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2011 Trevians Ace ACT, Rank High Nationally

Top half of New Trier's recently graduated class of 2011 scored better than 94 percent of students nationwide.

Students at New Trier High School continue to excel on the ACT, school board members learned Monday night. Overall, the average composite score of New Trier’s class of 2011 was about 27.5.

They did so well that the top half of New Trier’s graduating class of 2011 were all in the top 6 percent nationally, according to a report prepared by Paul Sally, the New Trier Township High School District 203 assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

Read more: Patch's coverage of New Trier Township High School District 203.

“Our students should be proud of what we do on these tests,” Sally said. “So should their parents, and the community, and teachers from the sender schools and our teachers.”

It makes sense to look at the ACT because it is the college entrance exam taken by all Illinois high school juniors as part of their state-mandated testing.

While students who took higher level math and english courses did better on the ACT, even students who did not take the highest level classes did quite well on the exam, Sally said.

Other points in his analysis included:

--New Trier students as a group did better on the ACT than was predicted by their scores on the PLAN test, a standardized test given early in the sophomore year.

  • More students are taking the ACT more than once, but more than half did not take it until the second semester of their junior year. While students who took it twice tended to do better the second time, students who took it more often did not always do as well on their last test.
  • The vast majority — more than 85 percent — of New Trier graduates met ACT’s college readiness benchmarks in english, math and reading. About 71 percent met the benchmark in science, Sally said, noting that he doesn’t necessarily agree with the science benchmark.

ACT develops the benchmarks by finding out how students, who have taken the test, do as college freshman, and correlating their success in college classes with the scores they earned on the test. While the college readiness benchmark for English is 18 on ACT’s 36-point scale, it is 24 for science.

That might be because most college freshmen who take science classes are entering science-based majors or engineering programs, Sally said, and some colleges use those classes as opportunities to “weed out” students who won’t be successful in those majors.

“I believe in the data that says if you’re going to be a science major, you’d better do really well on your science ACT,” Sally said.

Non-science majors usually take science electives later in their college careers, Sally said.

  • Boys outperformed girls by a narrow – but statistically significant margin – on the composite score, and when sorted by the highest math class they had taken. This was not true when sorted by the highest level english class they had taken. Girls, on average, took the ACT more times than boys, once again by a narrow but statistically significant margin.

Board member Carol Ducommon asked if Sally had asked ACT whether there might be gender bias in its tests. Sally said the testing company did not offer an answer to that question.

Margaret Mcintyre October 19, 2011 at 11:32 AM
It seems plausible to me, that New Trier kids do better on the ACT than the PLAN would predict because New Trier kids spend more time and money on test prep. The fact that girls take the ACT test more times than boys is consistent with the fact that girls are better "students" than boys, as studies have shown, that the ACT (compared to the SAT) is more of a 'content" test than an aptitude test. Scores vary directly with the amount of studying/prep/math courses taken. ACT contains Trigonometry questions and the SAT does not. So, if the girls are taking the same number of math classes (up to the Trig level) as boys, the girls may do better. I would be interested in seeing the SAT scores from New Trier as well. In any event, it's great to see the focus and results of the New Trier kids. We aging baby boomer expect great things from this generation--besides scientific discoveries, financial growth and full employment that pays for our social security! Congratulations NT scholars!!
Margaret Mcintyre October 19, 2011 at 11:46 AM
The College Board recently released 2010 SAT test results for college-bound high school seniors, and here are some highlights. 1. Boys scored significantly higher on the 2010 SAT math test than their female counterparts, by a difference of 34 points. This 30-point-plus male advantage on the SAT math test follows a pattern that has persisted since at least 1972. 2. For all SAT math scores of 580 and above (70th percentile and higher), male students outnumbered female students. As test scores increased by 10-point intervals from 580 to 800, the male-female ratio steadily increased, reaching a peak of 2.08 males per female for perfect scores of 800 (8,072 males vs. 3,887 females). 3. More females (827,197) than males (720,793) took the test in 2010. Adjusting for those differences in sample sizes, 1.12 percent of males scored a perfect 800 compared to 0.47 percent of females who did so, for an adjusted male-female ratio of 2.38 to 1. http://www.american.com/archive/2010/december/adding-up-the-differences-between-boys-and-girls

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