Vernon Hills High School soars on state testing
Vernon Hills High School ranks ninth in Illinois when it comes to preparing students for college, new state report card data shows.
It also topped the high schools in Lake County and throughout the suburbs surveyed by the Daily Herald. Last year, Lincolnshire's Stevenson High led the Lake County list.
The rankings are based on the results of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test administered this spring to third- through 10th-graders.
It'll be the last time Illinois high school students take the PARCC test. The state instead is focusing on the SAT college entrance exam. Elementary and middle school students will continue taking the PARCC test.
According to the state data, 69.7 percent of Vernon Hills High students met or exceeded state expectations on the test, well above the 33.4 percent state average.
The school's meets-or-exceeds score also is 26.7 percentage points greater than the state's figure.
Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 officials attributed the remarkable increase to the absence of technical difficulties that kept many students from finishing the test in 2015.
"We found that when we tested in small, classroom settings, our (computer) infrastructure easily handled the online load," Vernon Hills Principal Jon Guillaume said. "However, when we tested several hundred students in a large, open facility like our gym, we experienced an overload phenomenon that froze testing and ultimately disqualified dozens of student scores."
Even though Vernon Hills students scored well, District 128 officials aren't putting a lot of stock in the results -- in part because of discontinuation of the test.
"But it's nice to see our name among the high-achieving schools in Illinois," Guillaume said.
At Stevenson High, 67 percent of students met or exceeded state standards. That score was 1.5 percentage points higher than the school's 2015 average.
Stevenson spokesman Jim Conrey was dismissive of the about-to-be-eliminated test and wasn't at all concerned about the second-place ranking.
"The fact that the state backed out of PARCC after two years of a three-year contract speaks volumes," Conrey said. "We decided to have the fewest number of students take it as was possible under the state's rules."
As for the elementary and middle schools surveyed by the Daily Herald, Lincolnshire's Half Day School was on top for the second straight year.
Half Day serves third- and fourth-graders. The state report showed 84.3 percent of Half Day students met or exceeded expectations on the PARCC test.
Lincolnshire's Wright Junior High School had the second-highest meets-or-exceeds score for elementary or middle schools in Lake County, with 80.8 percent of students falling in that range. It serves fifth- through eighth-graders.
Wright placed second last year, too. Both Half Day and Wright are in Lincolnshire-Prairie View District 103.
Katie Reynolds, District 103's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said the scores reflect the work of teachers and students inside the classroom and the encouragement kids receive from parents at home.
"Our students' motivation and investment in learning creates an active classroom environment," she said, "where everyone is committed to excellence."