SHS outpaces on ACTSuperior High School was among Wisconsin’s “failing schools” in 2012. School administrators objected strenuously, pointing to student ACT scores to support their argument. The ranking did not change, but the administrators maintained their stance
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
Superior High School was among Wisconsin’s “failing schools” in 2012.
School administrators objected strenuously, pointing to student ACT scores to support their argument. The ranking did not change, but the administrators maintained their stance.
Now they may have further proof to support their claims.
For the second straight year, Superior students have finished ahead of the curve on the ACT.
“We’re very pleased with the good news,” said Janna Stevens, Superior superintendent. “This shows the work done by our staff and our students.”
In the latest ACT results, Superior’s 2013 graduates matched or tested higher than the state in all categories and surpassed the state average composite score.
Superior’s biggest advantage came in reading, where students tested 1.3 points higher than the state. Students also scored 0.4 points higher in science, 0.2 higher in math and tied the state in English.
For the composite score, Superior students averaged a 22.6. The state average was 22.1.
Principal Kent Bergum called the results “very positive.” He highlighted the school’s reading score of 23.6; Superior students improved by nearly a whole point compared to 2012.
“I believe this is a result of dedicated teachers and the focus of the district on literacy instruction,” Bergum said.
Stevens said the district’s efforts to implement the Common Core State Standards and promote effective teaching strategies played a role.
“I feel it’s a variety of actions and initiatives we’re putting into play,” she said. “I think there are so many factors that impact how we got here.”
But Superior’s ACT scores may not translate into a higher rating on this year’s school report card.
The report cards rely heavily on results from the annual Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination.
Bergum believes that is a mistake. The state’s focus on one test creates an inaccurate profile of schools, he said.
“A single test should not determine the effectiveness of a school or the success of its students,” Bergum said. “The ACT and Advanced Placement scores reveal an aspect of Superior High School that is not captured in the school report card. Both show a very positive trend in the number of students ... prepared for college and the workforce.”
ACT results are a factor on the school report cards, Stevens said, but schools are graded on student scores and participation.
“They have some sort of a formula where they merge those two together,” she said.
Superior had 161 students take the ACT in 2013, down from 175 in 2012 and below the five-year average of 172.6.
According to Department of Public Instruction enrollment data, Superior had 309 seniors enrolled at the start of this year.
Of the students who did take the ACT, a higher percentage met college readiness benchmarks than students in Wisconsin overall.
SHS students finished well ahead of the state in English and social science, with 81 percent meeting benchmarks in English and 68 percent meeting them in social science. At the state level, 75 percent met English benchmarks and only 53 percent met them in social science.
Superior also surpassed the state in the percentage of students meeting all four ACT benchmark scores — 36 percent in Superior compared to 33 percent in the state and 26 percent in the nation.
Superior also has a jump in Advanced Placement participation and testing in 2013.
“Enrollment ... continues to increase, with 331 AP exams taken in 2013 by SHS students,” Stevens said.
More students also earned college credit for the courses. Colleges often require a student to earn a score of three or higher on the AP exam to qualify for college credit.
“Since 2007, the number of students earning a three or higher has increased from 30 to 129,” Stevens said.
Stevens said she is proud of the successes at SHS, but she doesn’t know if those will be reflected on this year’s school report card, expected to be public Sept. 17.