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Crystal Greene, 503-947-5650

August 22, 2012

ACT College Entrance Exam Sheds Light on Student Preparedness

More Oregon students take ACT; Performance is flat

(Salem, Ore.) – A new report out today provides insight into the college preparedness of Oregon students as measured on the ACT College Entrance Exam. Acting Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton announced that a record number of Oregon students are now taking the ACT with 12,462 of Oregon’s 2012 graduates taking the test, a 6% increase from last year. This represents 38% of the state’s 2012 graduating class, compared to 35% in 2011. The state’s average composite score for 2012 graduates was 21.4, down slightly from 21.5 in 2011. Oregon’s graduates still outpaced the nation with a national average composite score of 21.1.

“These reports provide valuable information about how prepared our students are for the rigors of college-level work,” said Acting Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton. “While I am encouraged that the number of students taking the ACT continues to rise, I am also keenly aware that our progress remains flat and that far too many of our students are leaving our schools without the strong college- and career-ready skills they will need. The college preparation gap is particularly worrisome for our students of color. We are currently working to redesign Oregon’s education system to better serve both students and schools. This type of systems change will be necessary if we want to make real progress in closing the achievement gap and graduate students who are truly college- and career-ready.”

The ACT tracks the percent of students who meet set College and Career Readiness Benchmarks, which are defined as having a 50% chance of receiving a B or higher or a 75% chance of receiving a C or higher in a credit-bearing college course. In Oregon, 66% of 2012 graduates who took the ACT met the benchmarks in English, 55% in reading, 49% in math, and 35% in science. Twenty-nine percent met the benchmark in all four areas, up from 27% last year. Nationwide, an average of 25% of ACT test takers met all four college and career ready benchmarks. For Oregon’s Black, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, and Native American students, both their composite score and the percent reaching benchmark lagged behind their peers. Of the 2012 graduates taking the ACT, only 7% of Black students, 11% of Hispanic students, 8% of Pacific Islander, and 13% of Native American students met the benchmarks in all four areas. This compares to 34% for White students and 37% for Asian students.

“These numbers highlight something that is all too common in our schools – students of color graduating without the skills that will prepare them for success in college and the workplace,” said Saxton. “These numbers should serve as a mandate to all of us that we have to do better and more.”

While any high school student in Oregon can take the ACT, ten Oregon districts pay for all of their juniors to take the college entrance exam. These districts are: Beaverton, Bend-LaPine, Forest Grove, Monroe, Neah-Kah-Nie, Portland Public Schools, Riverdale, Sherwood, Springfield, and Tigard-Tualatin. The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score. Eleven Oregon students received a perfect score of 36.

To view the national and Oregon reports, visit: http://www.act.org/newsroom/data/2012/index.html.

Rob Saxton, Acting Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction
Crystal Greene, ODE Communications, (503) 947-5650

Oregon Department of Education News Releases contain information that was originally released to the press as an official release.  Refer to each News Release for the details.

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