In ACT scores, scholarship awards, school’s emphasis on academics shows


The test results are in, and once again Notre Dame leads the pack in college preparedness, surpassing the state average on ACT scores. The recent graduates of 2009 did outstanding on the tests, posting a composite score of 25.1, well over the state average of 22.4.

Even more impressive was the percentage of ACT-tested students who are ready for college work. The results show that 91 percent were ready for college English composition, 70 percent for college algebra, 78 percent for college social science and 55 percent for college biology. Moreover, 52 percent all reached proficiency in all four categories compared to the state average of 29 percent.

“This is the highest we have scored in five years,” said high school principal Ron Glasgow. “What is most significant is that every senior at Notre Dame takes the ACT. In other schools, only the students who sign up to do so take the test.”

The class of 2009 distinguished itself in another area as well: scholarship awards. When the final amount was tallied, the graduates had amassed $2.2 million in scholarship money.


And as the ACT scores of the class of 2010 start to come in, it appears the students have also excelled (some with scores in the 30s). The study that compares their performance to that of the rest of the state won’t be available until fall of 2010.

Among this year’s seniors who are starting to bring in academic accolades is Zach Champion. Zach has been named a “Commended Student” in the 2010 National Merit Scholarship Program. Commended students placed among the top 5 percent of more than 1.5 million students who entered the 2010 competition by taking the 2008 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

The outstanding test scores can be attributed in part to the school’s emphasis on academic excellence. Notre Dame has been increasing its honors class offerings since fourth-year Spanish, physics, anatomy and calculus were designated honors classes and weighted more heavily in grade point averages than other classes (an A is worth five points instead of four, etc.).

This year, an honors math course has been added to this list. Pre-calculus is offered to juniors and seniors who have finished Algebra II, have a high ACT score, and have passed the Compass math placement test at Southeastern Iowa Community College. Pre-calculus is taught by Claire Bohlen.

Another new class is pre-algebra. This replaces eighth-grade math in an effort to get the students ready for algebra. April Hamma teaches this course.

In addition, Notre Dame continues to challenge students by offering Advanced Placement classes, which have been part of the program since fall 2004. Students enrolled in such courses take online classes in the computer lab and are monitored by a Notre Dame instructor. Currently two seniors are taking such classes, Emily Bohnenkamp and Andrew Schilling.

Emily is enrolled in U.S. history. She says, “It’s time consuming and challenging, but I’ve learned a lot…I want to study history in college, and this is a good way to get a head start.”

Andrew took U.S. history last year and is currently studying AP statistics. “Last year I took the AP U.S. history exam and was able to earn college credit. This year I thought that the AP statistics class would be very practical; I want to study political science in college, and stats are an important part of research in political science.”

With honors classes, AP courses and the expanding foreign language department it’s clear Notre Dame aims to keep pace with the emphasis on rigor and relevance in education right now.

In addition, the emphasis on implementing the Core Curriculum throughout the school system will ensure that students are well prepared for whatever awaits them after high school.

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