Top ACTs or a Love of Learning: New Test Results Rekindle Debates

Article excerpt

West Chicago High School Principal Alan Jones recently learned his students' average ACT score rose nearly a full point in the past year and was almost two points higher than the state average.

So is he satisfied? Not really.

"I'm very happy with the scores, and we have a curriculum set up to achieve these scores," he said. "But I will have to tell you: I'm not at all pleased with what (education) is doing on a national scale."

Jones said he understands that scores on the ACT college- entrance exams are an important gauge of success to parents, students and college admissions officials.

But he also recognizes that, as Glenbard High School District 87 curriculum chief Mike Warner said, they're simply "a snapshot in time of a certain portion of our population."

Jones said he's more concerned about instilling in students a love of learning - something he believes is lacking in many high schools - than "preparing somebody to get a high test score."

Hence, the perennial ACT-score dilemma. While school officials say they're pleased by the region's overall high scores, which officially were released today, many are quick to point out that the marks also tend to correlate with things over which they have no control, such as the socioeconomic background of students.

And they don't think the scores alone should be an indicator of a school's overall quality.

Again this year, DuPage County high schools rose above the state and national averages on the American College Test, and, as in the cases of schools such as Benet Academy in Lisle and Naperville North and Central high schools, posted some of the state's highest. …