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5 Nicolet students achieve perfect ACT scores

March 4, 2013

ACT Inc. has a standard characterization for how many students across the country earn a perfect 36 composite score on its flagship college admissions exam: less than 0.1% of more than 1 million test takers annually.

This year, Nicolet High School is hosting an unusually large number of them.

Superintendent Rick Monroe reported Monday that two juniors, twin sisters Alexandra and Rachel Heuer, earned scores of 36 on the exam.

Junior Ben Lawton learned earlier this year that he earned a perfect ACT score.

So did seniors Nancy Gao and Annie Jen, who is 15.

Jen's twin brother, William Jen, who has similarly fast-tracked high school to become a senior before he can drive, just missed membership in the elite club. He scored a 35 on the ACT, according to Monroe.

"This is extremely rare," Monroe said. "Most high schools are lucky to have just one student to ever score a 36."

The average ACT score for Wisconsin's class of 2012 last year was 22.1.

Monroe said the news was a bright point amid a sea of negativity lately in public education circles, with budget cuts in previous years and concerns about no movement in education spending for the next two years. He said it's testimony, at least in part, to what happens when a community values its local schools.

Nicolet is often used as an example of a district that spends too much taxpayer money per pupil, but Monroe said those extra dollars mean more resources for students and teachers, which can also help drive achievement.

According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau school spending figures available - for the 2009-'10 school year, before education funding was significantly cut under Gov. Scott Walker - Nicolet spent more than $17,000 per student. According to the same census report, the average public school district in Wisconsin spent $11,364 per pupil that year.

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