With the average ACT scores of the six North Shore public high schools in the DailyNorthShore.com coverage better than the nation’s top 75 percent, only 2.6 points separates their performance.
New Trier Township High School leads the pack for the second year in a row with 27.8. That is the same average the school had a year ago.
Glenbrook North High School moved into second place from third a year ago improving its average tally from 26.5 to 27.1. Deerfield High School, second in 2016 at 26.6, dropped to third this year with a 26.4 composite average.
Lake Forest High School stayed in fourth place with a 26.3 average this year down one tenth of a point.
Both Glenbrook South and Highland Park High Schools showed the most improvement while staying in fifth and sixth place respectively. Glenbrook South went from 24.9 to 25.7 while Highland Park climbed from 24.5 to 25.2.
The national average is 21, according to information provided by Lake Forest High School. The Prepscholar website indicates a 28 puts a score in the 87.7th percentile nationwide while a 27 equates to the 84.3rd percentile. A 26 puts the test taker in the 80.3rd percentile while a 25 equates to the 75.8th.
While students, faculty and staff at some of the schools may feel better about the results than others, Chris Ellertson, the vice president of enrollment at Lake Forest College, said everyone should be proud.
“These are excellent scores from public schools,” said Ellertson. “Representatives from colleges across the country hold these schools in high regard.”
For years, Illinois required the ACT of all students in the state’s public high schools but switched to the SAT this year. Ellertson said Lake Forest will look at either one. Both tests provide a barometer projecting a student’s potential success in college but the academic record over seven semesters of high school is still the most important factor when making admission decisions.
“A majority of schools look at the SAT or ACT as part of the admission process,” said Ellertson. “The most important thing is the academic record. We look to see if a student is maintaining their performance or there is improvement.”
With fewer and fewer schools providing colleges with a student’s class rank, Ellertson said that has boosted standardized testing as something to be considered. The lack of a rank requires admissions officers to glean information from records of schools with varied grading scales. The ACT or SAT gives an objective comparison.
Ellertson said there is also a trend among colleges to making the submission of a standardized test optional. When an applicant elects not to submit an ACT or SAT score, he said Lake Forest requires an interview instead.
Some North Shore high schools offer preparatory courses for standardized testing. Lake Forest used to give students an ACT course but not does it for the SAT, according to Communications Director Anne Whipple. New Trier spokesperson Niki Dizon said a course is optional.
At Highland Park and Deerfield, Christine Gonzalez, the Director of Communications and Instructional Technology for Township High School District 113 said tutoring is offered to low income students.
Karen Geddeis, the communications director for Glenbrook High School District 225, said students who want tutoring are referred to outside sources.