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Vol. 45, No. 65

Aug. 17, 2011

Missouri’s Average ACT Score Remains Unchanged

Number of Students Tested Rises Again

According to statistics released today by ACT, the average score for Missouri’s Class of 2011 remains unchanged.  This is the seventh year in a row the statewide average composite score has been reported at 21.6.  Meanwhile, the national composite score has improved by one-tenth of a point to 21.1.

The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score. In the Class of 2011, 26 Missouri students - out of 48,565 who took the exam - scored a perfect 36.

ACT reported that the national pool of test-takers was the largest and most racially diverse in the 52-year history of the exam.  More than 1.6 million graduates took the test, representing 49 percent of all graduates nationally.

Missouri’s Class of 2011 had an estimated 71 percent of all graduates take the ACT, up from 69 percent the previous year.

Over the past five years, the proportion of African-American and Hispanic/Latino graduates taking the exam has grown nationally from 19 to 26 percent.  In Missouri, the proportion of these minority groups grew from 12 to 17 percent during the same time frame.  However, ACT statistics show a longstanding performance gap for both groups.

“The ACT results show that our achievement gap among minority groups is not unlike the national picture,” said Sharon Hoge, assistant commissioner for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. “However, it is imperative that we close the gap to ensure success for every Missouri child.”

A gender gap also exists in Missouri.  Within the 2011 class, more girls than boys statewide took the ACT exam (54 and 46 percent, respectively).  Boys had a higher average composite score at 21.9 compared to 21.4 for girls.

ACT also looks beyond the composite exam scores and analyzes students’ test results to predict college success in four academic areas – English composition, algebra, biology and social sciences.  Across the state and nation, the majority of students do not meet the benchmarks that ACT says can predict whether students will be able to earn at least a “C” in typical, first-year college courses.

Missouri data reflect:

  • At least 10 percent more boys than girls met the science and mathematics benchmarks.
  • About 3 percent more girls than boys met the English benchmarks, as well as 1 percent more girls than boys in reading.
  • The overall proportion of 2011 ACT-tested high school graduates in Missouri attaining at least three of ACT’s four benchmarks was 42 percent.
  • Another 35 percent met only one or two benchmarks, and 23 percent met none.

“These sobering statistics point to the need for significant improvement in readying the state’s students for college and careers,” Hoge said.  “We must expect more at all grade levels, especially in math and science.”

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