When juniors in Proviso Township High Schools District 209 take the ACT and Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE) on April 23 and 24, they will have incentives to do their best on the tests beyond just getting good scores.
Proviso East High School, Proviso West High School, and Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy will once again provide a series of prizes to students as incentive to give their best on the exams. The prizes have ranged from gift cards and bicycles to a 32-inch flat screen television – all paid for using proceeds from fundraisers or donations.
"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. "Incentives such as these prizes are just one way that we are providing to encourage our students that these tests are worth taking seriously. We encourage our parents to remind their students of the benefits of doing well on the tests and in the classroom."
The District has made significant strides in student achievement on the tests in recent years, partially due to the incentives. 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.
Each school also has taken its own methods of recognizing those students who have done well on the exams.
In October, Proviso East students who made gains on their ACT score and met or exceeded state standards in reading and math on the April 2013 test won their incentive prizes at an assembly in the school’s auditorium. Students also won prizes for taking part in test prep programs such as the ACT Cambridge Program. For current juniors such as Empress Harris, the prizes were part of a bigger picture in terms of doing well on the state testing.
"They said that every point counts on the ACT," Empress said. "If you’re improving yourself academically, you’ll have a broader scope in college. If you get the prizes, you can ask yourself, ‘What else can I do in college?’"
At Proviso West, administrators began the Prize Patrol, where they visit classrooms and present gift cards and other prizes to students who either met or exceeded state standards on the PSAE as well as those who have not been tardy to class for a quarter. Gabriela Gabarin, a Proviso West senior, won a $100 gift card during the first Prize Patrol on October 25.
"I didn’t expect it," she said. "But I thought I would pass the test."