Fenton, Lake Park Ace Science, but Still Struggle with Reading

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Byline: Mike Burke and Christy Gutowski Daily Herald Staff Writers

High school students may not be reading many books anymore, but those in north DuPage County seem to be partial to science manuals.

Reading test scores at Fenton and Lake Park high schools are down over the last five years, mirroring a statewide trend.

However, science scores are on an upswing over that same time period.

The state this week released the results of the Illinois Goal Assessment Program tests taken last spring. Students in each district were tested in reading, writing, math, science and social science.

Despite high teaching salaries and above-average per pupil spending, Fenton High School's scores on the standardized tests continue to be among the lowest in DuPage County.

Still, students at both Lake Park and Fenton scored above the state average in every subject area tested. The state average, however, is saddled with impoverished Chicago schools.

Fenton's students live in Bensenville and Wood Dale. Lake Park serves students from Roselle, Bloomingdale, Medinah, Itasca, Hanover Park and Keeneyville.

Science scores are an area where students at the two schools performed well.

Fenton's science scores are 10 percent higher than they were five years ago. In 1997, students scored a 293 average, placing them near the top 20 districts in the six-county Chicago region.

Lake Park's science scores jumped 18 points this year, the highest ever scored at the school.

Educators said the upward trend has a lot to do with the influx of technology in science curriculum. Laser discs, the Internet, calculator-based labs and curriculum with a new emphasis in biology are key.

"We're not just opening the textbook," science chairman John Adamowski said, "we're pulling stuff off the Internet every day."

At Lake Park, science teachers spend time each week with their students going over questions similar to those on the IGAP tests.

"They really know how to attack those questions and they're learning how to solve them," said Dean Bladel, a science teacher at Lake Park's west campus.

Lake Park and Fenton, though, have not escaped the downward trend in reading scores being experienced throughout the state.

Reading scores have dropped 46 points during the last five years at Fenton. …