Rockwall ISD has a rich history of student achievement reserved for the top 5% of all students in the nation in the areas of National Merit Semifinalists, Commended, and National Hispanic Scholar recognitions. New superintendent, Dr. John “JJ” Villarreal, recognized the academic potential of Rockwall ISD students and the unique opportunity to develop a program for students to achieve at the highest level and compete for college scholarships.
Dr. Villarreal challenged the district’s Advanced Academics Coordinator, Dr. Matt Redman, to develop a district program that would prepare students for the Preliminary SAT, the test that qualifies students for National Merit recognition. Dr. Redman developed the Superintendent’s Scholars Program, a five week course that helps students at Rockwall High School and Rockwall-Heath High School develop test taking strategies and test time management in order to maximize their potential on the PSAT. Approximately 56 students total participated in the four-hour sessions each Saturday.
“My scores improved in each category. We have built up test stamina,” said Jordan Franklin-Garza, a student at RHS. The course helped Victoria Huang, student at RHHS, who stated “I liked it because it made us practice for the upcoming PSAT. I may not have practiced otherwise.”
Overall, the students felt more prepared for the PSAT and were excited about the prospect of competing for National Merit recognition. “The program was beneficial because it placed me in the same testing environment as the real test and created a sense of what the test is like,” said Timothy Schaefer, a student at RHS. Dr. Redman said, “I am very proud of the work the students put in each Saturday with the Superintendent’s Scholars Program. It was great to see our students show improvement from week to week as they better understood the PSAT test sections and learned to budget their time on individual test sections.” Program teachers included Erin Denny and Kimberley Slayton at RHS, and Robert Bishop and Jennifer Helm at RHHS.