NEWS RELEASES 2012-13 :: AUGUST 22, 2012


North Carolina students again posted a 21.9 average ACT composite score in 2012, the same average as the Class of 2011 and the Class of 2010, according to the 2012 ACT report released today. This marks the fifth consecutive year that the state’s average ACT score has been higher than the national average score on this college admission exam.

Nationally, 52 percent of students took the ACT and posted an average composite score of 21.1. In North Carolina, 20 percent of the Class of 2012 took the ACT. The rate of voluntary participation in the ACT has been increasing over the past few years although most college-bound students in North Carolina elect to take the SAT college admission exam. North Carolina’s participation rate for the SAT was 67 percent in 2011 (2012 data are not yet available).

"It is encouraging news that more North Carolina high school seniors have shown they are ready for success in college-level courses by consistently performing better than their peers across the nation on the ACT," said State Superintendent June Atkinson. "This important assessment also gives students information to support career planning and will help them get ready for the next step after graduation, whether it is higher education, job training or the workforce."

Among the 2012 North Carolina high school graduates who took the ACT, 30 percent met or exceeded all four of the college readiness benchmarks (in English, mathematics, reading and science). This compares to 25 percent of the nation’s test-takers. The college readiness benchmarks are set by the ACT and reflect the score that students need to demonstrate a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher or a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or higher in corresponding credit-bearing first-year college courses.

The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement test consisting of four separate exams in English, reading, mathematics and science as well as an optional writing assessment. The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36 with 36 being the highest possible composite score.

The North Carolina State Board of Education and Department of Public Instruction will begin using ACT scores in the new school accountability model to be reported for the first time in the fall of 2013. The ACT was selected to provide a college-readiness measure for every student and high school.

Data provided today reflect scores from both public and private high school students. Local district and/or individual school scores are not available. National and state ACT results can be accessed by going to the ACT’s website at

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.