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August 17, 2011
Oregon Student Performance Holds Steady on ACT College Entrance Exam but Persistent Achievement Gaps Remain
SALEM – State Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo announced today that performance held steady for Oregon students who took the college entrance test administered by ACT. The state’s average ACT composite score for 2011 graduates was the same as last year, at 21.5. The national average ACT composite score this year was 21.1, up from 21.0 in 2010. The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score. Thirteen Oregon students received a perfect score of 36—the largest number of perfect scores to date. 11,715 students in the Oregon graduating class of 2011 took the ACT, a 1% increase from last year and the highest total ever. This represents 35% of the state’s 2011 graduating class, compared to 34% in 2010.
While Oregon students outperformed the national average again this year, achievement gaps still remain. The composite score of Oregon Black, Hispanic, and Native American students taking the ACT this past year lagged well behind the statewide average, at 16.6, 17.5, and 18.2 respectively. These gaps have changed very little over the past 5 years, although the number of minority students taking the ACT, along with the number of students overall, has grown over the years.
“Today’s results are a bit of a mixed bag,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo. “On the one hand, we are holding steady, beating the national average, and increasing the number of students who are taking the ACT college entrance test. These are all good things—things our state should be proud of. But on the other hand, we are not seeing the progress we need. Too few of our students, particularly too few of our minority students, are meeting ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks. We know that rigorous coursework and academic supports for all of our students are the answer to college and career readiness, and we need to ensure that all of our kids receive access to a challenging curriculum that will prepare them for success after high school. Over the past few years, our state has reaffirmed our commitment to college and career readiness in a big way with new proficiency-based graduation requirements, more challenging elementary and middle school expectations to support high school success, and adoption of the rigorous Common Core State Standards. It is my hope that in the coming years, these changes will not only improve student performance in our schools but will also encourage more students to participate in and excel at college entrance tests like the ACT.”
A closer look at the College Readiness Achievement Gap in Oregon:
The ACT is composed of four exams: English, mathematics, reading, and science. The chart below shows the percent of 2011 graduates by subject and subgroup who met or exceeded ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks (defined as “ready for college-level coursework”). The national average for all students is also provided.
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