Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire again has swept the five academic categories among high schools, according to state report card data from 92 suburban school districts examined by the Daily Herald.
For the second consecutive year, Stevenson High School District 125 led a top-10 list for Prairie State Achievement Exam composite scores, reading, math, science and ACT college entrance exam results. Libertyville, Naperville Central and Geneva Community high schools nipped on Stevenson's heels in the academic categories for 2012.
Students in third through sixth grades, eighth grade and junior year in high school were tested last spring and the results are the basis for the 2012 report card. Subjects included reading, mathematics and science on the Illinois Standardized Achievement Test for the younger students and the Prairie State Achievement Exam for the high school juniors.
District 125 Superintendent Eric Twadell said the stellar report card can be attributed to the school's formation of a culture that's breeding academic success. He said students are encouraged to seek help right away if they are having difficulty in a subject, while teachers quickly intervene if they spot problems.
"When we find out kids aren't learning, we don't accept it," Twadell said.
Stevenson's director of curriculum and development, Mark Onuscheck, said the school has created comfortable areas where students may seek extra help for subjects with teachers or certified paraprofessionals. He said assistance may be provided to a pupil before classes start for the day or during a free period.
"There is a real commitment for teachers to reach out to students," Onuscheck said, "and the teachers are happy to see them there."
In the suburban high school district data examined by the Daily Herald, Stevenson led with 86.1 percent of students meeting or exceeding standards for the Prairie State composite scores, followed by Libertyville High at 84 percent.
In reading, Stevenson came in at 82.4 percent meeting or exceeding, ahead of Geneva's 80.9. Stevenson's 88.2 percent meeting or exceeding standards in math edged Libertyville High's 87.2.
Stevenson's 87.8 percent meeting or exceeding standards for science bested Libertyville High's 85.7 on the top-10 list. In the fifth and final category, Stevenson's students had a 26.2 average ACT college entrance exam score, ahead of Naperville Central's 25.5.
Twadell said a longtime ACT trend shows how Stevenson has grown academically. School records show the ACT average was 22 or so about a decade ago and continued an upward climb to 26.2 in 2012, he said.
An ACT score of 22 wouldn't have been good enough for the top 10 this year among the suburban districts examined by the Daily Herald.
Stevenson's academic progress also is due to the students' willingness to get ahead before entering as freshmen, officials said. Twadell said an average of 700 of 1,000 incoming freshmen have been choosing to attend summer school courses to prepare them for what's coming at Stevenson.
Onuscheck said the academic results demand a team effort from teachers, supportive parents and students who buy into the culture.
"We just work hard and we care a lot," Onuscheck said, "and that's what it's all about."
• Go to http://www.dailyherald.com/section/reportcards/ to get all the school report card data. You can sort by year, school, district, community or county.