The Riverside-Brookfield High School Class of 2018 posted a composite ACT score that matched the lowest score by a graduating class in the last seven years. 

That was the disappointing news that Kylie Lindquist, assistant principal for curriculum and instruction, had to deliver to the District 208 school board last week.

The average composite ACT score for the RBHS Class of 2018 was 22.1, a drop of 0.5 points from the 22.6 score achieved by the Class of 2017. The Class of 2016 also complied an average ACT composite score of 22.1. The Class of 2015 achieved a score of 23.3, the highest in the last seven years. 

The 2018 score was also lower than those achieved by the classes of 2012, 2013 and 2014. It also fell far short of the lofty goal of an average score of 26 that was set a few years ago by the District 208 Board of Education, a goal that many educators consider unrealistic. 

Lindquist pointed out that it is difficult to compare the test scores of different graduating classes, since some graduating classes are academically stronger than others.

“The students in each of these cohorts are very different,” Lindquist told the school board.

The average score of the Class of 2018 might inch up one- or two-tenths of a point after the scores of those students who retook the ACT as seniors are added into the mix.

Lindquist said that 23.3 score achieved by the Class of 2015 seemed to be an anomaly and that the 22.1 score achieved by last year’s graduation class is not far off from other recent years.

Lindquist pointed out that about a quarter of the Class of 2018 did not attend the normal feeder schools for RBHS, and some of them transferred into RBHS as late as their junior year.

“Of the graduation class of 2018, 117 of them at some point came to us from a different place,” Lindquist said. 

But Lindquist said that she would not use that as an excuse for the drop in scores.

“We own these scores whether they came from Hauser, Gross or Komarek or if they came from a different state,” Lindquist said.

Lindquist said that she prefers to look at measures of student growth from the eighth-grade Explorer test until the ACT, but even by that measure it was not a good year for RBHS. The average growth of 5.23, while well above the predicted growth of 3.9 set by the ACT, was the lowest growth of the past six years at RBHS.

School board Vice President Tim Walsh, who presided over the meeting in the absence of board President Garry Gryczan, didn’t mince words reacting to Lindquist’s report.

“We had a bad year,” Walsh said. “Compared to ourselves we had a bad year. We did pretty poorly related to ourselves.” 

Walsh was not impressed that average growth at RBHS exceeded what the ACT considers average expected growth.

“We don’t consider ourselves an average high school,” Walsh said. “We put more resources in than the average high school.”

Lindquist said that test fatigue may have played a role in the drop in ACT scores for the Class of 2018. The state of Illinois has switched the mandated state test for juniors to the SAT from the ACT, so members of the Class of 2018 took both the ACT and the SAT.

“We’re talking about a class that has been tested and tested and tested,” Lindquist said.

It was also not a good year for RBHS judging by the ACT’s s College Readiness Index. Just 59 percent of RBHS Class of 2018 were judged to be college ready, tying the Class of 2014 for the lowest mark in the past six years. Sixty-three percent of the Class of 2017 were considered college ready by the ACT.

College readiness percentages dropped in all areas except in science, where the Class of 2018 did significantly better than the two previous graduating classes. Fifty-one percent of the Class of 2018 were considered college ready in science compared to just 45 percent for the Class of 2017 and 43 percent for the Class of 2016.

But math scores took a steep drop, with only 48 percent of the Class of 2018 meeting the ACT college readiness compared to 58 percent one year earlier.

“Our math department takes those scores very seriously,” Lindquist said. “We are looking most closely at math.”

Lindquist said that the school has an algebra-infused academic support program with a math teacher providing extra help to those who need it.

Lindquist said that she wants to work more closely with the district’s feeder schools to coordinate curricula and make sure incoming freshmen are prepared for RBHS. Administrators and teachers at RBHS have been working with the feeder schools’ eighth-grade teachers, but Lindquist wants to create a team to work to coordinate curriculum with feeder schools starting in sixth grade.

Advanced Placement exam results dropped at bit at RB for the Class of 2018, too, although 51 more RBHS students took an AP class last year and 140 more AP Exams were administered at RBHS last year. 

Some 73.5 percent of RBHS students who took an AP Exam last year received a score of 3 or above, which is generally required to get college credit, compared to 78.1 percent in 2017. But the pass rate of 73.5 percent was the third highest pass rate on AP Exams at RBHS in the last seven years.