The average ACT score for Oklahoma high school seniors remain unchanged from last year, but the gap between Oklahoma’s average ACT score and the rest of the nation is narrowing, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education learned yesterday.
Recent figures released by ACT showed that Oklahoma’s composite ACT score for the class of 2002 was 20.5, unchanged from 2001. The national average, however, decreased from 21.0 in 2001 to 20.8 in 2002. Oklahoma also moved up from 17th to 15th in the nation among states who test at least 50 percent of their high school seniors.
Oklahoma’s seniors also scored the same as last year in the areas of mathematics and reading. In mathematics they posted a score of 19.7, while in reading, they scored a 21.0. Average scores in English and science reasoning dropped one-tenth of a point from 20.4 to 20.3 and from 20.6 to 20.5, respectively. Nationally, however, English scores decreased three tenths of a point and science scores decreased two tenths of a point.
“These latest ACT scores tell us that a lot of hard work still remains if we expect our state to move forward,” Chancellor Hans Brisch said. “It is imperative, especially in this knowledge-based economy, that more and more students take the necessary core courses that will help them succeed not only in college, but also in their chosen professions and careers.”
Brisch noted that studies clearly show that the academic preparation students receive in high school has a direct effect on how they will perform in college. He referenced research conducted by ACT which showed that students who take a strong, core high school curriculum typically score higher on the ACT test and make better grades in college than those students who do not.
ACT defines the core college-preparatory curriculum as four years of English and three more years each of math, social sciences and natural sciences.
Perhaps one of the more encouraging results from the latest round of ACT tests is the improvement in scores shown by Oklahoma’s minority populations. Results indicate that all of Oklahoma’s major minority groups scored higher than their national counterparts. In addition, more minority students are taking core courses.
Math performance continues to be a challenge for Oklahoma and the rest of the nation as well. Oklahoma’s average ACT score of 19.7 trails the national average of 20.6 – nine-tenths of a point difference, more than any other subject area. Oklahoma’s ACT math score was unchanged from last year; however, the national average dropped one-tenth of a point. Overall, students who took more than the ACT core curriculum surpassed the national average in mathematics
“Even though Oklahoma’s average ACT score is unchanged from last year while the national average declined, it must begin to improve if we expect our students to successfully compete in the marketplace,” State Regents Chairman Carl Renfro said. “Regardless if students want to pursue a college education or enter the job market directly after high school, they will need to be prepared to continue to learn as the workplace rapidly changes. ACT scores give them an indication of where their weaknesses and strengths are.”
State Regents have undertaken several initiatives since 1993 to help students better prepare for college. Regents have increased the high school core curricular requirements for college admission from 11 to 15 courses and implemented the Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPAS), which provides eighth and 10th grade students information about how they are progressing academically in core content areas. EPAS reaches more than 90 percent of the state’s eighth and 10th graders.
Regents also have strengthened teacher preparation by requiring all elementary education, special education and early childhood development majors to complete 12 credit hours in each of four subjects – mathematics, English, science and social sciences. They also increased core-course taking and access to college by adding a third option for college admission based on a student’s grade point average in the State Regents’ 15-unit high school core curriculum.