State Superintendent Sandy Garrett and State Higher Education Chancellor Glen D. Johnson announced today the average ACT composite score in Oklahoma has risen from 20.5 to 20.7 – the state's third consecutive increase on the college entrance exam. Oklahoma's increase on the ACT outpaced the gains the nation made on the exam in 2007.
In 2006, the average ACT composite score in Oklahoma was 20.5; it was 20.4 in 2005. The nation's average composite score on the ACT was 21.2 for 2007.
“We're very encouraged that our students show clear progress, posting a 20.7 in 2007, our Centennial year,” Garrett said. “As we continue to implement the Achieving Classroom Excellence Act and push for more time on task – time reform – our focus is on college- and work-readiness and surpassing the national average on every educational indicator, including the ACT.”
“We can all be proud of the improvements in the test scores,” said Johnson, chancellor for the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education. “This comes as a result of the high level of cooperation between our secondary schools and higher education, particularly in the area of college preparation. The Oklahoma Educational Planning and Assessment System (OK EPAS) provides nearly 500 school districts with two assessments that assist about 85,000 eighth and ninth graders prepare for the ACT each year. And the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) program provides additional college prep assistance for educators, students and their parents. Our long term commitment to these programs is paying off.
Oklahoma improved all of its sub scores on the ACT in 2007 and came close to reaching the national averages in both English and reading. The average English sub score for the state rose to 20.5 from 20.3 ( U.S. = 20.7 ); math rose to 19.8 from 19.7 ( U.S. = 21.0 ); reading increased to 21.3 from 21.1 ( U.S. = 21.5 ); and science rose to 20.5 from 20.4 ( U.S. = 21.0 ).
Black, Hispanic and American Indian students in Oklahoma out-performed their peers nationally, though their performance was significantly below both the state and nation's overall composite score. American Indian students in Oklahoma had an average composite score of 19.5 on the exam for 2007 ( U.S. = 18.9); Black students had a 17.2 ( U.S. = 17.0); and Hispanic students had an 18.9 ( U.S. = 18.7).
ACT officials recently briefed Garrett, Johnson and staff of the state Department of Education and state Regents for Higher Education on Oklahoma 's most recent performance on the ACT. As the state is very close to reaching the national average in both English and reading, math achievement and course-taking behavior in the upper grades in math and science continues to be Oklahoma's challenge, ACT officials said.
Garrett said that as Oklahoma enters the high-stakes testing arena for students to earn high-school diplomas, she was optimistic more students and parents would see the value of taking math and science during the senior year of high school. She also said for students to post college-ready scores on the ACT, families must encourage their students to take a math curriculum that, at an absolute minimum, ends with Algebra II and a science curriculum that includes biology, chemistry and physics.
“I cannot stress enough how critical it is that students make the most of every year in high school and undertake a rigorous course of study,” Garrett said. “Moreover, secondary principals and counselors must make certain their courses adhere to the state's Priority Academic Student Skills and contain the rigor needed for students to be successful not only on the ACT, but to pass the state's end-of-instruction exams in Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, English II, English III, U.S. History and Biology I.* Watered-down courses serve no one and no purpose.”
Garrett and Johnson indicated, too, there are many academic programs and resources coordinated through Oklahoma 's public schools and by the Regents of which more students could, and should take advantage.
“We continue to see significant increases in the number of students who are earning college credit while they are still in high school,” Johnson said. “In the last school year, 9,442 Oklahoma students were concurrently enrolled in college courses. Our recent cooperative alliances between community colleges and career tech centers resulted in nearly 3,800 college course enrollments. These numbers are continuing to grow and will have a tremendous impact on the state in years to come.”
*Editor's Note: Per the Achieving Classroom Excellence law, beginning with the Class of 2012, students must pass four out of seven end-of-instruction exams in order to earn a high school diploma from any public Oklahoma high school.