R-P ACT scores among the best in the area

By : 
CHAD SMITH
TRI-COUNTY RECORD

Rushford-Peterson students left high school last year to pursue different types of secondary education, but before they went they recorded some of the best ACT test scores in Southeast Minnesota. R-P High School Principal Jake Timm said the district had the fourth-highest ACT average among area schools.

“The composite average score was 22.3,” Timm said. “Only three schools scored higher than we did. They included two of the Rochester schools and Byron. If they actually combine all three Rochester public schools, our score would come out ahead of theirs.

“The Minnesota state average is 21.3, so we’re a full point above the state average,” he added. “In each of the four sub-areas, we are above the state averages as well. For the English sub-test, R-P was 20.1 and the state score was 20.2. In Math, R-P was 23.3, while the state average was 21.4. R-P scored 22.7 in Reading while the state was at 21.7. R-P scored 22.8 in Science while the state average was 21.4.”

While Timm said the scores are good news for the district, standardized test performance is only a one-time snapshot. What those scores do prove is that last year’s college-bound kids were serious about what they’re doing and prepared for secondary education.

“One of the best things we have at Rushford-Peterson is a very balanced curriculum,” Timm said. “A large majority of kids take college-credit classes through concurrent enrollment or PSEO Program. After doing that, they’re ready to take the ACT and head off to continue their education.

“But in the same breath, we also have things like our Ag classes, technical education classes, and those real-world, hands-on type classes kid can take before heading off to Rochester Community and Technical College, Western in La Crosse, or Minnesota State Southeast. Our kids can walk out of there and be ready to start good-paying careers.”

Timm said the good scores are validation for the district, which is doing a good job of readying students to succeed in the real world, whether it’s at a four-year college, two-year college, or even jumping right away into the workforce.

Timm said it’s important to note that the school doesn’t teach subjects just to get high scores on standardized tests. What they do tell students is that it’s important to get good ACT scores if they want to go on to continue their education at good schools.

“The kids know it’s important,” Timm said. “Whether students plan on a two-year or four-year education, the staff stress the importance of doing well while they teach the student. The students also recognize the value in doing well on tests like the ACT and work hard for it.

“We try to expose them to as many different things as possible in order to help them choose the schooling option that’s right for them. There are things I didn’t even know existed when I was in school. We want to expose the kids to as much as possible so that they don’t have that happen to them. The last thing we want is a student going off to a school they don’t enjoy, not graduating, and coming back with no idea what to do and a lot of student loan debt.”

Timm said the concurrent classes give students both high school and college credits in each of the four core areas. That allows kids to walk out the door at R-P already having taken college-level classes. Those college credits in their back pocket will help them save some money during secondary education.

“Our staff takes the relationships we have with the kids very seriously,” Timm said. “That’s a big key. A bigger school may have more resources and more teachers, but they also have more kids. You don’t necessarily live next door or down the street from your teachers there like you do here. Here, the teachers live in the community, in some cases, right next door to the kids.

“When our staff sees a student struggling, it’s not just one of 300 juniors that are struggling,” he added. “That teacher may know and be friends with that particular student’s mom and dad, which means they care a lot more about how each student is doing. It’s like a big family here. We all want to see ‘our kids’ succeed here and in the rest of their lives.”