On April 23 and 24, juniors at Proviso East High School, Proviso West High School, and Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy will take the ACT and Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE).
To prepare for the high-stakes tests, the students and their teachers have been working hard to learn tips and develop skills through a variety of test prep classes and programs.
Our goal as a district is to meet or exceed the state average on these exams," said Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of District 209. "With these additional preparations for our students, we are giving them the tools that they can use to perform at higher levels on the state tests."
Proviso East has a series of test preparation activities, including a pull-out ACT Prep class that meets every other day where some students are pulled out of their physical education class so they can get extra help in different subjects that are covered on the exams. The school also offers its Cambridge ACT Prep program on Saturday mornings, for which students are selected based on their score on a practice ACT taken in October, their transcript, and two essays. Some students also take part in the Dream Team ACT Prep, which also meets on Saturdays. Those students are chosen based on their score on the PLAN exam that is taken during their sophomore year. Students also are able to take practice exams online.
Maryah Weddington, a Proviso East junior, said that the pull-out ACT Prep class that she is taking with Mr. Clinton Alexander, a Proviso East math teacher, has helped her prepare for the exams.
"I think it’s a good experience," she said. "This class sits you down and makes you realize the test is coming. It gives you an idea of what’s going to happen."
Proviso West has similar activities to help their students prepare. Along with the P.E. pull-out ACT Prep seminar, students also are offered Cambridge's Saturday Program and ScoreCelerator Sessions. Students also can take practice exams online online in the core subjects of English, reading, math, and science as well as in writing, and practice their reading skills. They also can develop their skills on the KeyTrain program, which helps to prepare them for the PSAE.
Anaisa Vazquez, a Proviso West junior, said that she has spent her time practicing the test online, writing essays in class, working on practice problems, and learning time management in the prep classes.
"I learned a lot about my time management," she said. "I’m pretty prepared."
At PMSA, Dr. Cynthia Daniels, a science teacher, and Dr. Robert Fisher, a math teacher, have been teaching ACT Prep during the school’s "zero period," with 15 to 20 students coming to school at 7 a.m. each day to brush up on their testing skills. Teachers have also been trained to use the prep book that was purchased for all juniors during the school day. In addition, the school will host two assemblies for students on April 16 and 17, with Mr. Dave Fickett of Cambridge focusing on math, and Dr. Bessie Karvelas, PMSA principal, focusing on English and reading.
Stefan King, a PMSA junior, is among the students taking a zero-hour ACT prep class. He said that the extra help will benefit him when it is take the test.
"I’m more confident at this time than when I took the practice exam in September," he said. "This is going to help me out."