Oklahoma ACT Scores Show Need for State Focus on Science & Math


While more Oklahoma students than ever – 29,342 – took the ACT this year, the state's average composite score remains flatlined when compared to previous years’ scores, according to results released today.

State Superintendent Janet Barresi on Wednesday said she sees some areas of slight improvement, but scores in areas such as science and math must improve if each student in the state is going to graduate prepared for college and career.

“While we’re seeing some progress inside Oklahoma when it comes to improvement on our own end-of-instruction tests, it's clear we've got more work to do in preparing Oklahoma's students to compete nationally and internationally,” Barresi said, “I’m especially concerned with areas such as Algebra and biology. This is where we need to focus on curriculum and rigor. Students in Oklahoma aren’t going to be competing for jobs just against the kid down the street or in the state next door, but against students in other parts of our country and the rest of the world.”

ACT Benchmarks GraphACT’s annual Condition of College and Career Readiness report was released today, along with profile reports on each state. The report shows that only 20 percent of students in Oklahoma met all four ACT College Readiness Benchmark Scores set by ACT.

Barresi said a bright spot is the number of students in the state that took the ACT, 80 percent of the graduating class of 2012. OK has a high percentage of students tested compared to other states, much higher than the national average.

When more students take a test, scores generally decline but that was not the case for the state this year. It appears only three states who tested 80 percent of their students had a higher composite average and English average. Five of the 14 who tested 80 percent had a higher average in Math. Two had a higher average in Reading and six had a higher score in Science. 

The percent of students meeting benchmarks in Oklahoma grew in math, reading and science but stayed the same in English and in all four subjects.

An analysis of College Readiness Benchmark shows that of the 2012 ACT-tested Oklahoma high school graduates, 67 percent met the College Readiness Benchmark for English, the same as the nation. Students in Oklahoma outperformed nationalpeers in Reading, with 53 percent meeting the benchmark score compared to 52 percent nationwide.

ACT-tested students in Oklahoma were up two percentage points from last year in math but still nine points below the national number. Oklahoma students gained a percentage point on the science benchmark, but were still five percentage points below the nation.

Compared to surrounding states, Oklahoma’s average composite score was in the middle of the pack.

Barresi said that, just as last year, she is concerned that many Oklahoma students interested in high-growth fields like education, management, marketing, health care and community services fall short of meeting ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks, again in the areas of math and science. ACT’s analysis showed that of 2012 ACT-tested high school graduates interested in health care, only 20 percent met the college readiness benchmark for math and only 11 percent met the benchmark for science. Of those indicating an interest in health care, only 37 percent met benchmarks for reading.

“These results show we’re not preparing these students to succeed in their chosen career fields,” Barresi said. “We want to take an active approach of visiting with school counselors, parents and students to make sure students are taking the right courses in high school. Statistics, for instance, is a course that shows a lot of benefit for students. We need to get more students into science, technology, engineering and math courses and push for them to take four years of these core subjects.”

Click here to read ACT’s full report.

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Last updated on August 24, 2012