Wisconsin students rank 2nd in the nation for ACT participation - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Wisconsin students rank 2nd in the nation for ACT participation

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MADISON (News Release) — With 73% of public and private high school graduates taking the ACT college admission exam, the state's 2014 average composite score increased one-tenth of a point to 22.2, making Wisconsin second in the nation on the ACT assessment.

“Our 2014 graduates did a fine job on the ACT,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “Their efforts, along with support from their teachers and parents, have resulted in statewide ACT scores that are second in the nation among ACT-taking states.”

Wisconsin had 46,870 graduates take the ACT during high school. Their composite score was 22.2 compared to 22.1 last year. The students represent 73% of public and private high school graduates, a participation rate that is up two percentage points from last year. Nationally, 1.8 million graduates took the ACT, 57% of the nation's graduates. The national composite score was 21.0, up from 20.9 the prior year. Minnesota had the top ACT composite score among ACT-taking states, those with 50% or more of graduates taking the ACT. Minnesota's composite score was 22.9, down a tenth of a point from last year.

Using years of collected data, ACT has researched the subject area test scores, or benchmarks, that indicate college readiness. For example, the benchmark score for English is 18. Students with that score or higher have a 75% chance of earning a grade of “C” or better in a college-level English course, reducing the likelihood students will need to take remedial classes before starting their college studies.

Wisconsin far outpaced the nation in meeting benchmark scores in each subject area. In English, 75% of state public and private school graduates earned the English benchmark score (18), compared to 64% nationally. In mathematics, 54% of state students earned the benchmark score of 22, compared to 43 percent nationally. For reading, the benchmark score went from 21 to 22 last year and 51% of Wisconsin students had reading scores that met the benchmark, compared to 44% of students in the nation. In science, 49% of state graduates earned the benchmark score of 23. Nationally, 37% of graduates were considered college-ready in science. The science benchmark score went from 24 to 23 in 2013. Overall, 51% of state graduates earned three or more ACT benchmark scores, compared to 39% of students nationally.

“Business and industry leaders have told us that to be college ready is to be career ready,” said Evers. “We want our students to pursue rigorous coursework so they are prepared for the next steps after high school graduation, whether that is further study at a two- or four-year college or university or training with apprenticeship programs, military service, or the workforce.”

According to ACT, a college-ready curriculum, or “core curriculum,” consists of four years of English and three years each of mathematics, science, and social studies. Overall, Wisconsin had 73% of students who reported they took a core curriculum, the same percentage as the nation. State students who took “core” had ACT subject scores that averaged 2.4 points higher than scores for students who did not report taking a rigorous college preparatory curriculum. Nationally, there was an average 3.0 point difference in scores on subject area tests between students who studied a core curriculum and those who did not. Wisconsin students' course-taking plans showed wide disparities based on racial and ethnic groups and is reflected in 2014 ACT subject and college-readiness benchmark scores.

“While overall student performance on the ACT was quite strong, we have work to do to close achievement gaps,” Evers said. “The work of my Achievement Gap Task Force, a group of talented educators and leaders from across the state, will provide proven, research-based strategies and resources that any school and school leader can implement immediately to make a difference in the lives of students in Wisconsin classrooms.”

Wisconsin's graduation requirements will change from two credits each in math and science to three credits for public school students who finish high school in the 2016-17 school year. “Most of our students already meet the new math and science credit requirement. I fought for this policy change to increase the rigor behind Wisconsin's high school diploma and to ensure our students take coursework that will prepare them for college and careers,” Evers said.

Participation among most student groups has been going up over the years. Hispanic students in Wisconsin had an 11% increase in ACT-taking over one year. Composite scores for Hispanic students were steady from the prior year at 19.2 and up from five years ago (18.7). In spring, Wisconsin will be among 19 states that administer the ACT to all students during high school as part of a statewide testing program. The state's 11th-grade public school students will take the ACT plus writing exam in March.

NOTES: Additional tables with information on ACT results for 2014 public and private school graduates follow. This news release is available electronically at http://news.dpi.wi.gov/files/eis/pdf/dpinr2014_83.pdf. ACT results for public school students are available by school and by district on the WISEdash Public Portal at http://wisedash.dpi.wi.gov.
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