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McHenry High School teacher takes part in effort to improve testing skills for Illinois students
McHenry High School teacher takes part in effort to improve testing skills for Illinois students
Amy Maciaszek
Tuesday, December 29, 2020

As high school students across Illinois start preparing for the SAT college admission testing, McHenry High School’s science Instructor Tim Beagle is hoping his work helps students see better skills and scores.

Beagle, division chair for science at McHenry Community High School District 156, teamed up with a small group of Illinois educators during the summer to delve into the science portion of SAT testing and devise ways for teachers to incorporate important skills into their curriculum. 

The group’s effort resulted in a new webinar The College Board is sharing with teachers throughout the state. The new Science Toolkit Webinar includes tips for teachers to incorporate skills, particularly reading, in science classrooms to help reinforce learning needed for science testing through the SAT.

Officials with The College Board, the organization that oversees SAT and PSAT testing, AP testing, and others, said the work is an important step to helping students prepare for postsecondary success.

“We’re thrilled that districts from across Illinois are coming together to make connections between classroom instruction and the skills measured on the SAT, which are the ones most needed for college and career success,” said Greg Walker, vice president of the College Board’s Midwestern regional office. 

“This type of collaboration will ultimately help more students deepen the cross-disciplinary analytical skills that they will use in college, at work, and throughout their lives.” 

The SAT Suite of Assessments Science Focus Group met virtually during the summer to dissect science material on the SAT and develop recommendations for other educators. 

The idea was to move beyond preparing students for the test to actually incorporate the learning into everyday lessons. “I’m looking for areas to embed and infuse some of those skills,” Beagle said.

This year’s high school juniors are preparing for SAT testing in the spring. At MCHS, optional practice testing is scheduled for Jan. 27 and March 13, with SAT testing to come in April. 

Carl Vallianatos, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for District 156, said school educators have been making an effort to encourage preparation and practice testing to improve SAT results for students.

Beagle said the idea to delve into science came out of a professional development program for educators. 

“It was a good experience,” Beagle said.