Stevenson High again earns top marks on report cards

Stevenson High School's latest scores on the ACT college entrance exam and the Prairie State Achievement Exam were among the best in Lake County, newly released data showed.

Students at the Lincolnshire school averaged 26.4 out of a possible 36 points on the ACT exam, according to the Illinois State Board of Education report.

Additionally, 87.5 percent of the Stevenson students who took the PSAE test met or exceeded state standards. Stevenson students also scored at or near the top in the individual reading, math and science categories, the data showed.

Stevenson High's strong academic reputation is known nationally. The high marks didn't surprise school spokesman Jim Conrey.

"There's no magic sauce that we spoon feed to students so they'll perform well," Conrey said. "It boils down to working our tails off to make sure that every student is learning, and for those that aren't, figuring out what we need to do to help make them learn."

Of course, if nearly 88 percent of the students met or exceeded standards, more than 12 percent didn't. Conrey wasn't happy about that.

"That's not acceptable at a school where the mission is, 'Success for every student,'" Conrey said. "We have a lot of work left to do."

The news wasn't as good for Round Lake High School, which reported scores that were among the lowest in the suburbs.

Round Lake High's average score on the ACT was 17.8, and only 36.4 percent of students met or exceeded state standards on the PSAE, the data showed.

But there was a bright spot in Round Lake High's scores: The percentage of students meeting or exceeding state standards in science increased dramatically, rising from 27.1 percent to 31.9 percent.

That was the largest percentage-point increase for any Lake County school on the science portion of the exam.

The percentages of Round Lake High students meeting or exceeding standards in reading and math increased more than 3 points from the previous year, too.

The scores aren't as high as administrators would like, but they're taking the improvements as a good sign.

"Our trajectory is changing," Principal Donn Mendoza said.

Mendoza credited a number of building-wide changes for the higher scores.

Most significantly, educators are emphasizing literacy by trying to improve students' reading comprehension and writing skills in all subjects, he said.

The staff is also trying to change the culture at Round Lake High by stressing the importance of preparing for college or careers, Mendoza said. Teens aren't just learning content from books, they're learning skills, he said.

Additionally, students are provided greater supports as freshmen than in years past, and they're given more opportunities to retake classes sooner if they fail, Mendoza said.

"We know, clearly, that we need to continue to do better for our kids," he said.

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