D209 beefs up SAT test prep offerings

After-school, Saturday programs and workshops for juniors to come

January 9th, 2018 1:42 PM

By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

The Proviso Township High Schools District 209 school board recently took steps to expand the range of SAT test prep services it offers students. 

During a Dec. 12 regular board meeting, the school board voted unanimously to contract with Academic Approach, a Chicago-based test prep and tutoring company, to offer students SAT test prep programs after school and on Saturdays, and SAT strategy workshops for all juniors in the district. 

The total cost of the additional programs is not to exceed $65,475. The additional services offered to Proviso East and Proviso West students will be paid for with Title I funds, while services offered to Proviso Math and Science Academy students will be paid for with local funds. 

The district had already been offering a variety of test prep activities since the start of the 2017-18 school year in order to get students and teachers acclimated to the SAT. Spring 2017 marked the first time that all juniors attending Illinois public high schools were administered the SAT, as opposed to the ACT — which the state opted to replace in 2015. 

D209 officials said students who participated in the spate of test prep offerings already on hand earlier this year — which included instructional resources offered through the free online school, Khan Academy, along with various classroom activities — performed better on the official state SAT than on the practice test administered in January. 

"The district average SAT total score increased by 60 points for participants, compared to 15 points for non-participants," according to a document provided by the district last month. "Gains were also seen for participating students at each school, with East participants gaining 60 points compared to 32 for non-participants, West participants gaining 44 points compared to 24 for non-participants, and PMSA participants gaining 62 points compared to 55 for non-participants." 

District officials said overall attendance rate for the existing test prep programs was 70 percent — 82 percent at East, 68 percent at West, and 84 percent at PMSA. 

Student-athletes at East and West would occasionally leave after the first half of Saturday morning sessions in order to participate in sporting activities, officials noted. But the new test prep activities, which start this month, will allow participants to take part in prep services both after school and on Saturdays. In order to participate, students need to apply and pay a small fee that will be refunded if they complete the program with at least a 90 percent attendance rate. 

The SAT strategy workshops for all district juniors will be held shortly before the official state SAT test is administered this spring.

Report: Proviso among top destinations for CPS transfers

According to a Chicago Reporter analysis published Dec. 19, "Chicago's public schools lost more than 52,000 black students. Now the school district, which was majority black for half a century, is on pace to become majority Latino."

Many of the transferring students are now going to predominantly poor, black school districts in the south suburbs and northwest Indiana, the report shows. In the last eight years, about one-third of the roughly 15,000 students who left predominantly poor and black Chicago public schools enrolled in predominantly poor and black schools elsewhere.

Proviso Township High Schools District 209 is among the top 25 school districts in the state receiving most of those transfers, data compiled and analyzed by the Reporter shows.

From 2009 to 2017, the Reporter concluded, 174 students from CPS schools with student populations that are at least 80 percent low-income and at least 80 percent African American enrolled at D209.