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updated: 8/17/2011 3:55 PM

Benet, Naperville, Indian Prairie celebrate ACT results

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Educators at several Naperville-area high schools are celebrating the release this week of strong composite ACT scores.

In Lisle, Benet Academy is celebrating its eighth consecutive year posting a composite score of 28 or higher. Naperville Unit District 203 continued it's five-year trend of scoring 25 or higher with a composite score of 25.4. And Indian Prairie Unit District 204 set a district record with a composite score of 24.5, up from 23.9 last year.

The state's composite average for last year's junior class was 20.9, up 0.2 from the previous year. Nationwide the average was 21.1, up 0.1.

Benet Principal Stephen Marth attributed his school's feat to diligent efforts by students, dedicated teachers and supportive parents.

In District 203, 53 percent of graduates from the Class of 2011 at Naperville Central and Naperville North met the four key benchmarks that purportedly show readiness for success in the first year of college compared to a national average of 25 percent.

"We are proud of what these young people accomplish in many aspects of their lives from academic performance to community contributions. Scores on standardized tests are just one of the benchmarks," Superintendent Mark Mitrovich said. "Most of all, what we hope to accomplish through our work with our students is to instill the ability to learn, to think and to problem-solve because what we need to know today will not be the same tomorrow. The teachers and staff are doing a tremendous job at succeeding in this goal."

In Indian Prairie, students' scores have been climbing during the past five years. Since 2006, the district's scores have increased by 1.3, which more than triples the five-year average state growth of 0.4. During the same period, national scores decreased by 0.1.

"We're thrilled with the growth we are seeing on our students' ACT scores," District 204 Superintendent Kathy Birkett wrote in a prepared statement. "The scores reflect not only the hard work of our students, but the work of our teachers at all grade levels, including the middle school level, where teachers have focused on the Explore test, which directly prepares students for the ACT."

District 204 test results came from students at Neuqua Valley in Naperville and Waubonsie Valley in Aurora.

Nine years ago, Illinois became the first state to require all high school juniors, not just those who planned to attend college, to take the ACT as part of the Prairie State Achievement Examination. The ACT consists of curriculum-based tests in English, mathematics, reading and science, designed to measure the skills needed for success in first-year college coursework.

The test is scored on a 36-point scale.