NEWS RELEASES 2011-12 :: FEBRUARY 29, 2012


Next Tuesday, for the first time ever, nearly all public and charter school 11th graders will be required to take the ACT ® college entrance exam.  The ACT is a curriculum- and standards-based educational and career planning tool that assesses students' academic readiness for college. In December 2011, the State Board of Education approved the ACT to become a part of North Carolina’s new accountability model for high schools that will be implemented statewide in 2012-13.

"Results from the ACT assessment will be one of the most important indicators we will use to gauge how well schools are preparing students for higher education, job training and future careers," said State Superintendent June Atkinson. "Since the ACT is a national test, we also will be able to use the results to see how North Carolina students are performing compared to their peers across the country."

This year, the ACT will be given to about 100,000 high school juniors and will cost the state $4.6 million.  In January, the U.S. Department of Education granted North Carolina permission to eliminate its 10th grade writing test, which was required under No Child Left Behind, since the ACT includes a writing test. Elimination of the test frees up funds that the NCDPI will use to support the ACT.

"Now every high school student in North Carolina will be able to take the test and receive an ACT score to include in their college applications at no cost for their families," Atkinson said. "This helps eliminate a barrier to higher education and will bring many students one step closer to earning their college degrees," Atkinson said.

The ACT contains four curriculum- and standards-based multiple choice assessments in English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and the writing test. Students are allotted about four hours to finish the test. Additionally, the ACT includes a career exploration component that stimulates students' thinking about future plans and relates personal characteristics to career options. 

In recent years, North Carolina students have performed well on the ACT. In 2011, students maintained a 21.9 average ACT score, marking the fourth year that the state's average ACT score was higher than the national average (21.1) Scores may decline now that a larger population of students will be required to take the exam. The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36 with 36 being the highest possible composite score. Scores are accepted by all four-year colleges and universities in the United States.

The ACT is one of three tests that are receiving more focus in relation to the state’s new school accountability model. In December, high school sophomores across the state took the PLAN assessment.  PLAN is administered by ACT and measures students' current academic development in English, mathematics, reading and science. Students also can use results from the test to explore career/training options and make plans for the remaining years of high school and post-graduation. WorkKeys is another career- readiness test used by business and industry that will be administered this year only to high school seniors who are Career and Technical Education Concentrators (taking four credits in CTE courses with at least one Level II course).  For more information, visit NCDPI ACT.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 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 Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.