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Contact: Alan Richard
(404) 879-5544
Released: 8/18/2010

Many SREB States Hold Steady on Average ACT Scores, But Major Rises in Numbers of Students Taking Test Continue

ATLANTA – Although the average composite ACT scores in many Southern Regional Education Board states that mainly use the college admission test held at the same level from 2009, major gains continued in the numbers of students taking the test and aspiring to college, according to ACT Inc. data released today.

In the 10 SREB states where more than 50 percent of graduating seniors have taken the ACT, scores rose in South Carolina, stayed the same in six states and declined in three. The average composite score for all SREB states was 20.2, down one-tenth of a point from 2009. The U.S. average composite score was 21, down from last year by the same amount as the region.

Use of the ACT has soared since 2005 in several SREB states, including Florida (where 65 percent of graduating seniors now have taken it), South Carolina (now at 52 percent) and Georgia (now at 44 percent). In the region overall, more than 167,000 more students had taken the ACT in 2010 than in 2005. Nearly 47,000 more graduating seniors in SREB states had taken the test in 2010 than in 2009 — rising to more than 588,000 from this year’s graduating class alone.

Scores were mostly flat for various racial/ethnic student groups in SREB states in 2010 compared with 2009, although average composite scores for white students were up in four SREB states that heavily use the ACT. Kentucky was the only such state to have average scores improve for black and Hispanic students in 2010.

"The relatively flat average composite ACT scores in many SREB states and the gaps in average scores among racial/ethnic groups remain a concern, but it’s exciting to see many more students take the test. It indicates their aspirations for college and career training after high school," said Joan Lord, SREB’s vice president of Education Policies.

Oklahoma and West Virginia had the highest average composite scores of all the ACT-dominant states in the region, both at 20.7.

West Virginia students’ average score of 20.7 on the English portion of the ACT made it the only state in the SREB region (among states where 50 percent or more of graduating seniors took the ACT) to best the 20.5 national average score in that subject. West Virginia students also equaled the national average score of 21.3 in reading.

Two SREB states were among the handful in the nation to have 100 percent of graduating seniors take the ACT: Kentucky and Tennessee, which require virtually all students to take it. Louisiana had 97 percent taking the ACT, and Mississippi had 96 percent.

On ACT’s college-readiness benchmarks, students in SREB states showed some progress over previous years in scores that indicate their academic preparedness for college and career training. Yet lower percentages of students in SREB states met ACT’s college-readiness benchmarks than in the nation in English, algebra, social science and science.

SREB is working directly with several states — including Texas, Florida, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland — to help them develop statewide programs for improving students’ college readiness. For more details on SREB’s state-policy solutions on college readiness, see the new report Beyond the Rhetoric: Improving College Readiness Through Coherent State Policy, available at www.sreb.org.

The Southern Regional Education Board, or SREB, based in Atlanta, was created in 1948 by Southern governors and legislatures to help leaders in education and government work cooperatively to advance education and improve the social and economic life of the region. SREB has 16 member states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. More information is available online at www.sreb.org.

Southern Regional Education Board
592 10th Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30318-5776
(404) 875-9211

For additional information, please e-mail communications@sreb.org