ACT Results

The company known as ACT, which produces the college entrance test of the same name, released a report of the state’s record:

Kansas tested 76 percent of its graduates, according to ACT. Kansas’ average score rose by one-tenth of a point, to 21.9. The average score in Nebraska, which tested 77 percent of its graduates, was 0.2 points higher than Kansas’, Posny said. A perfect score is 36.

The national composite score, an average of the four ACT subject tests, rose one-tenth of a point, to 21.2. Nationally, an average of 42 percent of graduates took the ACT.

That’s a good showing, but recall that the national score went up as well.

The largest district, Wichita, posted a slight increase in its average score, up from 20.3 to 20.6.

The district with the highest average score, Andover, dropped from 23.3 to 22.8.

What we may be seeing here is statistical noise.

Officials with the firm hope that more students take math and and science classes:

The bad news in many respects is, we continue to see students not taking the math and science, not taking the core courses we know essentially prepare them for those freshman college courses,” said Richard Ferguson, ACT’s chairman and chief executive officer.

Included in the article were warnings, some self-serving, about the need to not judge a school on one score alone. There’s some validity in that. There are many indicators, such as the NAEP or state assessments, in addition to the ACT, which after all is administered to a self-selecting group of students.

“Wren encouraged middle-school parents to visit the high schools they’re considering for their children to get a true feel for the learning environment.” That would be Denise Wren, an assistant superintendent for high schools in USD 259.

Visits are fine, but at some point, schools will be judged on their record, not appearances.

The ACT, by the way, has on its web site college readiness profiles of each of the states, including a 32-page PDF file for Kansas. Among the interesting points there:

Minority students do not have a record of consistent improvement, if you look at scores for 2003 through 2007. African-Americans scored 17.6 on average but went down to 17.4 for 2005 and 2006 before making an uptick in 2007. The Hispanic average for 2007 is the same as that of 2003 (19.3), though there was a modest improvement in 2004 (19.4) and a decline (to 19.1) in 2005.

Math and science still give students trouble.

Six students achieved a perfect score in all four subjects: English; Mathematics; Reading; and Science.

The state-by-state results give some interesting information, too.The composite score of 21.9 put Kansas behind 17 other states, including 3 states (Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska) in which at least 66 percent of students take the test. (In Kansas, the number is 76 percent).

Commissioner Posny is quoted as saying “”There’s only one state that does slightly better, and that’s Nebraska.” Perhaps she was taken out of context, but that’s not right. Look at the source above. Limit yourself to states in which at least 42 percent of students–the national average–took the test. Here’s what you find.

STATE RESULTS

State results are given in this format: Postal code; Composite Score; Percentage of students taking the ACT

  • MN 22.5 (70)
  • WI 22.3 (70)
  • IA 22.3 (66)
  • NE 22.1 (77)
  • MT 21.9 (59)
  • KS 21.9 (76)
  • SD 21.9 (76)

Source: State’s Score on the Rise, Wichita Eagle, August 29

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