ACT score on the rise at Taft; school to launch second ‘Hall of Fame’


The Taft High School Local School Council at its April 14 meeting discussed the increase in the school’s ACT score and the creation of a second Taft “hall of fame.”

The average score on the ACT college entrance test for Taft’s juniors this year was 19.6, compared to 19 last year and the school’s 5-year average of 18.6. In 2014 the average citywide score in the Chicago Public Schools was 18 and the statewide average was 20.7.

“19.6 is a full point increase from our 5-year average, and that is huge,” Taft principal Mark Grishaber told the LSC. “It shows everybody what we are capable of, (and) I think the sophomores are going to break 20.”

The decision by the LSC to fund ACT preparation courses played a significant role in the improved scores, Grishaber said. Last year about 50 students took the preparation course offered by Taft, but this year the course was offered at no charge and about 450 juniors signed up, although not all completed the 10-week program, he said.

It also was reported that Taft’s on-track graduation rate for freshmen was 86.3 percent, compared to 84.5 percent last year, and its attendance rate was 92.56 percent, compared to 89.6 percent last year. The attendance rate is an indicator of a school’s overall success because “if the students are happy they’re going to show up,” Grishaber said.

In addition, the number of 2015 graduates from Taft’s Seventh and Eighth Grade Academic Center choosing to remain at the school for high school is 40, up from 35 in 2014. There are about 120 eighth graders in the program, and traditionally many of its participants are accepted to the city’s top selective enrollment schools.

Next year the school hopes to retain at least half of the center’s graduates, Grishaber said.

Also at the meeting, it was announced that the Taft High School Foundation will honor inductees into the new William Howard Taft High School Hall of Fame during a reception on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Ridgemoor Country Club, 6601 W. Gunnison St., Harwood Heights. Voting for the nominees ended April 15.

Those eligible included Taft graduates who have demonstrated high levels of achievement in their career and retired Taft teachers and others who have contributed to the success of the school. The list of nominees included members of the Taft Alumni Association Hall of Fame, which started in 1989.

Association president Anne Lunde told the LSC that some members of the association’s hall of fame were confused by the creation of a second hall of fame and did not understand why they were going through a new nominating process. The association plans to continue with its hall of fame, which selects new inductees every 3 years.

Grishaber said that having two Taft-affiliated hall of fames is feasible and that he welcomed a recommendation to create another hall of fame because the association’s nominating criteria is “flawed.” He said that association only inducts Taft graduates and that teachers, staff members and others also should be eligible.

In 2004 the association created a “Book of Honor” in recognition of teachers and students, including those in the military. In 2009 the association changed the criteria to include deceased graduates, as only living graduates were once eligible.

Meanwhile, the council voted 7-3 in favor of a $3,440 expenditure for a roller skating class. The council usually approves funding measures unanimously, but some members said that previous skating classes have been overcrowded and that a student suffered a compound fracture during a skating accident in the gym.

In other news, the school has asked the alumni association to pay for display classes which will be used to display memorabilia from each decade that Taft has been opened and that a scoreboard donated by the Class of 1946 has been refurbished and is now on display by the school’s concession stand outside the main gym.

The LSC will hold its next general meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 12, at the school, 6530 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.