New Trier Class of 2014 continues ACT success

Following the departure of the Class of 2014, New Trier High School officials have completed the ACT analysis for its most recent graduating class.

The report, which has been produced annually since 2010, analyzed 1,033 student ACT scores. The average composite score for students in the Class of 2014 was 27.5, the same as last year.

“The most important note is probably the depth of performance of kids on the ACT no matter what English or math class they take,” said Assistant Superintendent Paul Sally. “The averages are incredibly high.”

Overall, 16 percent of New Trier students scored in the top 1 percent in the nation, 39 percent of students scored in the top five percent in the nation and 54 percent of students scored within the nation’s top 10 percent.

New Trier students posted strong scores on the English portion of the ACT, with the average score being 28.3, slightly above the 28.0 posted by last year’s graduating class. The numbers are particularly high for students enrolled in at least one AP English course (33.2) or students who finished in level three English (28.3).

Recent graduates posted a 27.5 average score on the math portion of the ACT, which was the same as last year. Again, students in advanced classes such as AP mathematics courses (31.4) or level three math classes (27.9) averaged higher scores overall.

Sally credited New Trier’s rigorous curriculum and teachers for helping the students achieve such success.

“The other big change we have is the growth,” Sally said. “Forty percent of our students exceeded their predicted high ACT score. The national average in a school like ours is 12.5 percent. The fact that we have 40 percent is incredible, more than three times the national average.”

According to the ACT’s numbers, 97 percent of New Trier students are ready for college English, 87 percent are ready for college mathematics, 86 percent are ready for college social science and 80 percent are ready for college biology. Overall, 73 percent of New Trier students are ready for all four areas, well above the 26 percent national average.

“When we have students who are not reaching those college readiness benchmarks we have to make sure we understand that better,” Sally said. “We always wanted to make sure that every kid has the ability to do as well as possible, both in school and on these tests. I don’t see any significant bad news.”

However, Sally said social/emotional skills and future success in college are a few items these tests cannot measure.

“We really believe to get a full picture of whether a student is college ready is much more than one multiple choice standardized test can tell us,” Sally said. “None of those things can be tested. The ACT does a great job of testing what it tests, but it’s not a complete picture of what college readiness is.”

Though the numbers are what New Trier has come to expect from its students, board members hope to dig even deeper when comparing the school to others around the country.

“To me, it’s a little unsatisfying – and don’t get me wrong, these are great numbers – to compare ourselves to the national average,” said Board Member Greg Robitaille. “I have a thirst to compare ourselves to these peer schools.”

Superintendent Linda Yonke said New Trier’s ACT scores are higher than any other public admission school.

Assistant Superintendent Tim Hayes said New Trier is continuing to study the personal social/emotional skills needed to succeed in college and will continue to tweak this report for upcoming years.

“We’re trying to understand that better,” Hayes said. “Overall, what we’re hearing from universities is our students are doing well. We have anecdotal evidence, but how do we put together a complete picture?”

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