CONTACT:  Michele Clark
Communications Coordinator

Vol. 44, No. 63

August 18 , 2010 

Missouri graduates taking ACT reaches all-time high

Average score remains steady at 21.6


The state’s Class of 2010 had more students take the ACT college-entry exam than ever before, education officials announced today. A record 48,290 high school graduates took the ACT, representing 69 percent of this year’s class.


Although the total number of students taking the test increased by 1,367, Missouri’s average score held steady at 21.6 – the same score the state has had for the last six years.


In comparison, the national composite score is 21.0, down one-tenth of a point from 2009. Missouri’s score is ranked 11th among the 27 states that test 50 percent or more of their graduates on the ACT. The top-ranking state is Minnesota with an average score of 22.9.


The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score. In 2010, 23 Missouri students scored 36 on the exam.


Over the past five years, the total number of Missouri students who take the ACT at some point before graduating has increased almost 13 percent.


Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro credits Missouri students for recognizing the need to continue their education and training beyond high school.


“One measure of college and career readiness for high school graduates is the ACT,” Nicastro said. “Although Missouri’s average ACT score is stable and consistently remains at or above the national average, we are concerned that many high school graduates are not as college-ready as they need to be.”


College-ready benchmarks
College-ready benchmarks
College-ready benchmarks
ACT scores by race/ethnicity

State and national

college readiness benchmarks

College readiness benchmarks by race/ethnicity

The state has shown an increase in the number of students meeting all four of the ACT’s “college readiness benchmarks,” which predict how well students are prepared for typical, first-year college courses in English composition, algebra, biology and social sciences. In 2010, 26 percent of Missouri graduates met all four benchmarks, up from 24 percent in 2006.


Nationally, only 24 percent of students meet all four benchmarks, while Missouri bests the national benchmark average in each of the four ACT subtests – English, mathematics, reading and science.


The number of minority students taking the ACT is growing across the state. Since 2006, the number of African-American students taking the ACT has increased by almost 39 percent; the number of Hispanic students has increased by almost 55 percent. However, ACT statistics show a longstanding performance gap for both groups.


The ACT exam is the most utilized college-entry exam in Missouri and most Midwestern states. Founded in 1959, ACT is a nonprofit organization based in Iowa City, Iowa.

For more information on the ACT exam or to find upcoming testing dates, visit ACT's website at