When juniors at Proviso East High School, Proviso West High School, and Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy take the ACT and the Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE) on April 23 and 24, respectively, the testing will carry much significance for Proviso Township High Schools District 209, its schools, and for the students themselves.
Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of District 209, said that the results of the state testing are listed on the state report card and are displayed both locally and statewide. They also are used to compare students, staff, and the quality of education in the Proviso community to those in other communities.
"Those test scores are for the large part used by the public to judge whether a school is graduating students who are academically proficient," Dr. Collins-Hart said. "The score on the ACT also is a permanent part of a student’s record.
The District has made significant strides in student achievement on the tests in recent years. The District has had a 33 percent increase in the percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards in reading on the PSAE since 2009, including an 11.5 percent increase at Proviso East in 2013. The most recent state report card also shows a 55 percent increase in the percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards in mathematics on the PSAE since 2009, and a 37 percent increase in the percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards in science on the PSAE since 2009. The percentages of students meeting or exceeding standards in reading and math were historical highs since the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001. In addition, 95.5 percent of the District's juniors participated on both ACT and PSAE testing days in 2013.
Mr. Tony Valente, principal at Proviso East, said that the testing is for everyone’s benefit, especially in terms of evaluating of how certain programs increase student achievement in the classroom.
"It measures students’ level of achievement to this point and it allows them to see how college ready they are," he said. "For us, what you see is a culmination of our efforts. Teachers bought into the rigor and relevance framework in our curriculum. The ACT/PSAE is a culmination of our instruction."
For Dr. Bessie Karvelas, principal at PMSA, the testing helps teachers inform instruction, with benefits for students beyond high school,including increasing students’ chances to earn academic scholarships for college.
"These assessments tell us where we are as a school, where we need to go, and how we are going to get there," Dr. Karvelas said. "The assessments also support students’ acceptance into universities of their choice. These assessments help guide the academic future of our students, and they help them make decisions on what paths they should pursue and where their academic talents lie."
In the end, it is a matter of students taking ownership of their academic progress, Dr. Collins-Hart said.
"Students should take personal pride in putting forth their best effort to represent themselves individually and their school collectively," she said.