While students like Nickles and her classmates Mitch Leonard and Hunter Genco, who also took the ACT prep course with her, have always had college in mind, not every student feels the ACT is worth the time. The students said having the district support their decision to take the test further encourages their aspirations.
"With the school offering the test, it shows they care," Genco said. "It shows they are willing to put their back on the edge for us to get into college."
One weekday morning in April, students either catch a bus at the high school or drive to the Wild Rose Casino, where a room is provided for the district for free.
Once they reach the casino, the 200 students will turn in cell phones, present a photo ID, have their calculators checked and take an assigned seat. Before the test, high school officials make a seating chart, arrange where test booklets go and what teacher is monitoring which section of students. Students who need extra accommodations take the test at the high school and a handful take the Compass Test, a standardized test for students to attend community college. the district also offers make-up exams for students who are sick the day of the exam.
"Having it here, nobody falls through the cracks," Schrader said. "If our goal as a school is to graduate them college and career ready, they need to have this experience. Even if they don't go off to college, maybe they will eventually. Or maybe they would see, 'Oh, I scored pretty well. Maybe that's something I could do.'"
Once the all-students-take-the-test policy was implemented, the Clinton School District's average composite score fell away from the state average. In 2010, the district had a 21.7 average composite score compared to the state's 22.2. In 2011, the first year of data from the test being given to all Clinton juniors, the district had a 19.1 average. The state's composite average in 2011 was 22.3.