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For Immediate Release: Aug. 17, 2011
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

State’s ACT scores steady, still above national average

South Dakota’s average composite ACT score remains unchanged from last year at 21.8, and above the national average of 21.1. State scores also have been consistently higher than the national average over the last five years.

The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 as the highest possible score. Eighty-one percent of South Dakota’s 2011 graduates took the ACT, up from 79 percent of 2010 graduates.

ACT also issues what it calls “college readiness benchmarks,” which are a measure of how test-takers are expected to perform at the college level. While the percent of South Dakota students ready for college-level coursework is higher than the national average in all four areas measured, there is room for growth, according to South Dakota Secretary of Education Melody Schopp.

“When you look at the college-readiness indicators, it clarifies for me the importance of the work we are doing to implement more rigorous standards in both reading and math through the Common Core Standards Initiative,” Dr. Schopp said. She noted that South Dakota also will be actively following the progress of next-generation science standards currently being developed by groups across the nation.

According to ACT’s data, students who report taking “core” curriculum, which is defined as four years of English and three years each of math, social studies and science, consistently outperform their peers in meeting the college readiness benchmarks.

South Dakota’s new graduation requirements have every student taking a minimum of three science and three math units – preferably upper-level courses.

“As more students benefit from exposure to those subjects, and as we deepen the rigor of our reading and math offerings through the new Common Core standards, we should begin to see some impact. But it won’t happen overnight,” Schopp said.