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NEWS RELEASES 2006-07

NEWS RELEASES 2006-07 :: AUGUST 17, 2006

NORTH CAROLINA'S ACT SCORES INCREASE SLIGHTLY IN 2006

The average composite ACT assessment scores of North Carolina students increased slightly as did the scores for students in the nation in 2006, according to results from the ACT college admissions and placement exam released yesterday. State and national results on the test are among the factors colleges use in their admissions process.

North Carolina is considered to be an SAT state because the majority of students in this state take the SAT for college entrance. The state's university system accepts either for admission. A total of 10,359 (public and non-public) students took the ACT this year. Last year, 53,314 North Carolina students (public and non-public) took the SAT.

The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement test made up of four separate exams in English, reading, mathematics and science, in addition to an optional writing test.

North Carolina's average composite score of 20.5 increased by three tenths of a point while the national average composite score increased by two tenths of a point to 21.1. The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score.

Fifty-two percent of the North Carolina students who took the ACT completed at least the minimum core coursework that ACT recommends for students who plan to attend college. Nationally, 54 percent of students tested completed at least the minimum core coursework. Students who complete at least the minimum core coursework generally score higher on the ACT and earn better grades in college.

"Students score higher on college entrance exams such as the ACT and are more prepared for rigorous college courses when they push themselves and take challenging courses during high school," State Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee said. Lee also called upon parents and guidance counselors to closely monitor student course selection. "Parents and educators have the same goal: to ensure our children are academically ready so that they will succeed in secondary education and in the workforce."

State Superintendent June Atkinson echoed Lee's call for a strong partnership between students, parents and educators saying, "If we want our students to compete in a global economy, we must ensure that they are prepared and have the tools to be successful. When we have high expectations of our students they will have high expectations of themselves."

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 2006 who took the core curriculum earned an average composite score of 22.0, slightly higher than the previous year's score of 21.9. For North Carolina, the average was 21.5, slightly higher than the previous year's score of 21.4.

Students who took less than the core courses nationally earned an average score of 19.7 in 2005, over two points lower than those who took the suggested core courses. North Carolina's corresponding average was 18.8, almost three points lower than those who took the core college-preparatory curriculum.

North Carolina's black students had a composite average score of 18.0 (17.8 nationally) for students who have taken at least the core curriculum and 15.8 (16.2 nationally) for those who have not. American Indians in North Carolina who took at least the core curriculum scored 19.3 (20.2 nationally) while American Indians who did not take the core curriculum scored 17.1 (17.5 nationally). White students in North Carolina who took at least the core curriculum scored 22.8 (22.9 nationally) while white students who did not take the core curriculum scored 20.7 (20.6 nationally). Hispanic students in North Carolina who took at least the core curriculum scored 21.4 (19.5 nationally) while Hispanic students who did not take the core curriculum scored 18.9 (17.6 nationally). Asian American students in North Carolina who took at least the core curriculum scored 22.9 (22.9 nationally) while Asian American students who did not take the core curriculum scored 22.7 (21.1 nationally).

Results from the optional ACT Writing Test, launched in February 2005 and released for the first time this year, showed 53 percent of North Carolina students chose to take the exam and earned an average score of 7.5 (on a scale of 2-12). Nationally, 36 percent of students chose to take the exam and earned an average score of 7.7. On the combined English Test/Writing Test score, North Carolina's average score was 20.2 (on a scale of 1-36). Nationally, students scored 22.0. The ACT writing test requires students to write an essay response to a given prompt. Students have 30 minutes to complete their essay. The writing scores are not included in the ACT composite score.

Students choose to take the ACT and/or other college entrance exams. 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.

"The growth in the average ACT composite score is encouraging, particularly given the increase in the number of students taking the test," said Richard L. Ferguson, ACT's chief executive officer. "More students are preparing themselves better for college-level coursework. However, we still have a lot of work ahead of us to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills they need to succeed at the next level."

Local and district scores are not available. National and state ACT results can be accessed by going to the 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. 29.

For more information, please contact NCDPI's Communications division at 919.807.3450.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 107 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.


For more information:
NCDPI Communications and Information, 919.807.3450.