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New Berlin students set record high on ACT scores

Sept. 7, 2012

New Berlin - Even as school starts for another year, New Berlin teachers and administrators are celebrating record-high ACT college entrance exam scores from last year's senior class.

New Berlin's average composite score was a record high 24.6. Contributing to that achievement were record scores in reading, English and science and tying the previous year's record high in math.

"This is something we're absolutely proud of," Superintendent Joe Garza said. "And it came when we had the highest number of students taking the test."

Typically, scores go down when more students take the test because at least some of those might not have taken it, he said.

"This is an achievement that is a credit to the staff and programs, hardworking students and families who support the schools," Garza said.

One student even had a perfect score of 36.

District focused on math

The students appeared to be strongest in math, where the average score was 25.1, the highest on the test. By comparison, the average was 24.4 for science and 24.1 for reading and English.

Math has been a specific goal for the district for the last couple of years, Garza said. The schools have been pursuing a specific action plan to enhance math ability, he said.

"The rigor of the work being presented by our staff is producing positive results," Garza said. "It's one thing to teach math, it's another to teach with rigor."

The New Berlin scores have marched higher both overall and in all subjects compared with five years ago and compared with scores 15 years ago, the farthest back scores are available from the state Department of Public Instruction.

School officials don't pin their hopes on single high scores, but wait for them to be repeated as better evidence of progress.

The 24.6 composite score last year showed that scores in the 24s were not flukes. This was the third score in the 24s in the last four years.

School officials will now wait to see if the highs of 24.1 in reading and English will hold next year. But they are encouraged that last year's 24.4 science score tended to confirm the 24.1 of the year before.

Ike outperforms West

A look at the individual composite scores of the two high schools shows that Eisenhower's are still a bit higher than West's.

However, West could be coming on strong as its ACT scores last year hit record highs overall and in every subject.

With programs the same at both schools, teachers and administrators also push hard at both, Garza said.

"We're seeking improvement of all students at all our schools," he said. "The idea is to have everyone moving forward."

The New Berlin students' strong showing of 24.6 put them seventh out of 34 school districts in southeastern Wisconsin that have high schools. On top of the heap is Whitefish Bay where students turned in an average ACT score of 25.9 last year. That was good enough for second in the state behind Kohler's 27.6. Then came Elmbrook in this region at 25.4.

But the New Berlin students beat traditional powerhouses Shorewood at 24.4 and Kettle Moraine, 24.1.

- Jane Ford-Stewart

NEW BERLIN ACT COMPOSITE SCORES

EisenhowerWest
Composite24.724.4
Reading24.223.9
English24.523.7
Math25.125.2
Science24.424.3

TOP 2011-12 ACT PERFORMERS OUT OF 34 DISTRICTS

Average composite score

Whitefish Bay25.9
Elmbrook25.4
Cedarburg25.2
Mequon-Thiensville25.2
Hartland Arrowhead25
Nicolet24.9
New Berlin24.6
Shorewood24.4
Greendale24.3
Kettle Moraine24.1
Muskego23.7
Sussex Hamilton23.7
Wauwatosa23.5
Whitnall23.4

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