NORTH CAROLINA'S ACT SCORES IMPROVE
The average composite ACT assessment scores of North Carolina students and students in the nation increased in 2004, according to results from the ACT college admissions and placement exam released today. State and national results on the test are among the factors colleges use in their admissions process.
North Carolina's average composite score of 20.3 increased by four tenths of a point while the national average increased by only one tenth of a point to 20.9. The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score. A total of 15 percent (10,449 test takers) of North Carolina graduates were tested while the national percentage tested was 40 percent (1,171,460 test takers), the same percentage as in the previous year.
North Carolina generally is considered to be an SAT state because the vast majority of students in this state take the SAT for college entrance. The state's university system accepts either for admission.
Fifty-two percent of the North Carolina students who took the ACT completed the core courses that ACT recommends for students who want to attend college. Nationally, 56 percent of students tested completed the core coursework. Students who complete the core courses generally score higher on the ACT and earn better grades in college.
"We're encouraged by the continued positive trend on the ACT. These results show that demanding coursework makes a difference," said State Superintendent Mike Ward. "Student performance on college entrance tests is linked to the coursework that students take in high school. That is one of the reasons that North Carolina is working to strengthen high school curricula."
State Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee said that it is important for students and their families to work with guidance counselors and teachers to plan a rigorous course of study in middle school and high school. "Students need to plan for college and for education after high school. By pushing themselves to take the most rigorous courses that they can, students will be better prepared," Lee said.
ACT defines the core college-preparatory curriculum as four or more years of English and three or more years each of math (algebra and above), social studies, and natural sciences. Nationally, seniors in the class of 2004 who took the core curriculum earned an average composite score of 21.9. For North Carolina, the average was 21.5, up from 21.2 the previous year.
Students who took less than the core courses nationally earned an average score of 19.4 in 2004. North Carolina's corresponding average was 18.4, up from 18.2 the previous year.
North Carolina's Black students had a composite average score of 18.1 (17.8 nationally) for students who have taken the core curriculum and 15.9 (16.1 nationally) for those who have not. American Indians in North Carolina who took the core curriculum scored 20.0 (20.3 nationally) while American Indians who did not take the core curriculum scored 17.6 (17.5 nationally). White students in North Carolina who took the core curriculum scored 22.6 (22.7 nationally) while White students who did not take the core curriculum scored 20.4 (20.3 nationally). Mexican American students in North Carolina who took the core curriculum scored 21.1 (19.2 nationally) while Mexican American students who did not take the core curriculum scored 16.5 (17.3 nationally). Asian American students in North Carolina who took the core curriculum scored 22.3 (22.5 nationally) while Asian American students who did not take the core curriculum scored 21.3 (20.6 nationally). Hispanic students in North Carolina who took the core curriculum scored 21.0 (19.9 nationally) while Hispanic students who did not take the core curriculum scored 17.6 (17.5 nationally).
Like the SAT, students choose to take the ACT and the scores do not represent the entire student population. Many factors, including coursework, student motivation, parental support and socioeconomic status, contribute to a student's achievement.
"It is encouraging to see national ACT scores rise after several years of relative stability," said Richard L. Ferguson, ACT's chief executive officer. "We still have a long way to go, however, in making sure students graduate from high school with the skills they need to succeed in college, particularly in science and math."
Local and district scores are not available. National and state ACT results can be accessed by going to ACT's Web site at http://www.act.org and clicking on the appropriate link.
The national, state and district SAT results will be released on Aug. 31.
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About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.
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NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.