Badger, Milton, Whitewater, Williams Bay top area school ACT scores

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Nick Crow
Wednesday, August 20, 2014

JANESVILLE — Milton and Beloit Turner School District students scored the highest on ACT tests in Rock County, while Williams Bay and Whitewater students scored at the top in Walworth County.

Williams Bay scored the highest in the area with a composite score of 26.1, which is 2.3 points higher than Whitewater, the second highest,.

"We are very pleased,” said William White, principal at Williams Bay Jr./Sr. High School. “We had a stellar group of students who were focused on maximizing their learning and achieving their post-secondary goals.”

White said his school has developed an after-school ACT prep program and a college prep reading and writing course that has helped performance on the test.

The ACT measures student competency in four areas--reading, math, English and science. Results released Wednesday are from tests taken in spring 2013. Beginning in spring 2015, all Wisconsin public high school students in grade 11 will take the ACT.

"I am extremely proud of our kids and staff for all their hard work," Doug Parker, Whitewater High School principal said. "It has been a focus of ours for the last three years."

Parker said initiatives such as the introduction of freshman and sophomore ACT driven testing, the Links to Literacy reading program and a push to have school counselors meet with all students to discuss their career goals all have contributed to boost ACT scores.

Whitewater has improved on its scores in each of the last three years, Parker said. Wisconsin as a whole outperformed the nation in all four test areas, according to ACT figures.

"We've really tried to match what kids are taking to that list," Parker said. "Last year, we had a 22.7, the year before that we had a 21.7. Our initiatives are paying off."

There has been some debate, however, about the importance of the ACT tests and whether they truly measure student competence.

One local college has decided to make the test results optional as a part of their application process.

Starting with the fall 2015 admission cycle, Beloit College will make submission of test results optional for domestic, first-year applicants.

Robert Mirabile, vice president for enrollment at Beloit College, said in a written statement that more than 800 colleges and universities have enacted test-optional policies. About one-third of the top 100 liberal arts colleges in the U.S. News rankings are test optional, he said.

"Given the extremely competitive marketplace in which we recruit students, it is important for us to carefully weigh the costs and benefits of each part of our application," Mirabile said.

"From this perspective, I am concerned that the standardized test requirement adds little unique value to our selection process. Indeed, the requirement can, in some cases, inhibit access to Beloit among capable students who would greatly contribute to and benefit from the college," Mirabile said.

In Williams Bay, ACT scores are among several measures used to determine staff and student achievement, White said.

"We are always looking for ways to improve learning at our school," White said. "We are looking for ways to support the learning of each student and to help them achieve their goals. We will also focus on implementing Common Core Standards, new state assessments and teacher effectiveness."

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