August 17, 2011
For immediate release
Kathy Toelkes, Director of Communications, 785-296-4876
Kansas ACT scores hold steady
More students take the test than in previous year
TOPEKA – The biggest change experienced by Kansas on the 2011 ACT college entrance exam was the number of students participating in the test. Results released today show that 79 percent of Kansas graduates participated in the ACT, up from 75 percent in 2010. Meanwhile, average composite scores held steady at 22.0 out of a possible 36, ahead of the national average of 21.1 and topping the scores of other states with a similar percentage of students participating in the exam. Kansas students’ performance toward college readiness benchmarks was virtually unchanged from the prior year, as well.
“It’s encouraging that performance has held steady even as more students are participating in the ACT exam,” said Kansas Education Commissioner Dr. Diane DeBacker. “The challenge for our educators will be to help students improve performance toward college readiness standards so we can begin to see both our participation and our performance on the exam increase.”
In addition to providing composite scores on the college entrance exam, ACT provides performance toward college readiness benchmarks in English, reading, mathematics and science. The benchmarks represent scores that would indicate a level of preparation needed to have at least a 50 percent chance of achieving a grade of B or above in entry-level college coursework.
Seventy-three percent of Kansas students who took the ACT exam met the college readiness benchmark for English, down just a percentage point from 2010. The percentage of students meeting college readiness benchmarks in reading, mathematics and science was unchanged from 2010, at 60 percent, 51 percent and 34 percent respectively.
The average score for Kansas high school graduates in English was 21.4, well above the benchmark of 18. Kansas’ average reading score was 22.3, 1.3 percentage points above the college readiness benchmark of 21. In math, Kansas students fell just 0.2 percentage points below the benchmark of 22, and they were 2.1 percentage points below the science benchmark of 24.
“Clearly a greater focus on preparing students to be college and career ready will be needed to grow the percentage of students achieving these benchmarks,” DeBacker said. “A number of recent initiatives can have an impact here, including the initial work of the Kansas P-20 Council to bring greater alignment to K-12 and post-secondary education, and the adoption of the Common Core State Standards, which are aligned with ACT’s definition of college and career readiness.”
Numbers from the 2011 ACT exam continued to show the importance of taking core coursework in high school. Core coursework includes four years of English and three years each of math, science and social studies. Students who complete core coursework consistently score higher on all areas of the ACT than students who do not complete core coursework. In Kansas, 80 percent of graduates taking the ACT exam completed core or more coursework in high school and their average composite score was 22.6; 3.1 percentage points higher than students who had not taken core coursework and 0.6 percentage points higher than the average composite score for all Kansas graduates taking the exam.
More information about Kansas students’ performance on the ACT exam can be found at www.act.org.