Last week's column focused on how Community Consolidated School District 15 students performed on their EXPLORE high school entrance exam. Data from the last three years was provided and showed that more than 40 percent of students were not fully prepared to take advantage of a rigorous college preparatory curriculum in high school.
The data indicates that many students who have consistently scored in the "Meets Standards" on the Illinois State Achievement Test (ISAT) are now deemed deficient in one or more subject areas on the ACT-aligned EXPLORE test. Those scores, along with their eighth grade academic performance are used to determine their freshmen year course placement at either Palatine or Fremd High Schools.
What type of remedial classes or special programs does Township High School District 211 offer for struggling incoming freshmen? How many students have been enrolled over the years? Are the numbers of students increasing or decreasing?
For students with low EXPLORE scores in reading and/or math, District 211 requires that they attend one of their summer incoming Freshmen Academies. Students who successfully complete the program can advance to higher curricular levels.
Since 2007, Palatine High School enrolled between 25 and 28 percent of their incoming freshmen in either the 3-week reading or math academies or the 6-week Freshmen Academy that includes both reading and math.
During those same summers, Fremd High School enrolled approximately 16.5 percent of their freshmen except this past summer when the number increased to 20 percent.
Many of these students also are recommended for special programs at both high schools designed to increase their chances of success in the college preparatory curriculum.
Fremd's FAST (Freshman Accelerated Support Team) program creates an interdisciplinary experience for freshmen in English, World Geography and Biology. It also includes a teacher guided study hall. Placement in the program is recommended for those with an EXPLORE reading score between 12 and 15.
Students with even lower reading scores are placed in both English and another class designed to boost their reading skills.
Another academic initiative available only at Fremd for freshmen students with average entry scores is RISE. This program combines English, biology and world history coursework.
Palatine's STRIDE (Students Reading Individual Development to Excel) program is comparable to Fremd's FAST and RISE programs. It is designed for students who place in the regular level of classes but who might benefit from extra reading support through an academically supported study hall.
Enrollments in these special programs and courses have remained consistent over the years at Fremd and Palatine averaging anywhere from 22 to 25 percent of their respective freshmen class.
In some ways, these students are the lucky ones. Their EXPLORE scores demanded the attention of District 211 and they qualified for extra services.
What about the others – those that are "not low enough" to qualify for these programs yet "not good enough" for an accelerated or honors class? Do they even need the extra support?
Was District 211 able to accelerate academic achievement for all students?
Next week: From EXPLORE to ACT – Were District 15 students ready for college?