Iowa students continue to earn the second highest average ACT scores in the nation during 2010, according to results released by ACT. This year also saw an increase in the number of students in Iowa who took the test compared to 2009.
The average ACT composite score for Iowa students this year was 22.2, compared to the national average score of 21. Iowa’s average score is the second highest in the nation among states testing a majority of their graduating seniors. While Iowa’s average score is slightly lower than last year’s state-wide composite score of 22.4, the national average is also slightly lower than last year’s average of 21.1. Minnesota is first in the nation with an average score of 22.9 out of a possible 36.
“The ACT report shows that Iowa’s students are among the best in the nation, but this is not a time to rest on our laurels,” said Governor Chet Culver. “We must continue to move forward with our initiatives, such as the Iowa Core, that will help make sure every Iowa student receives the best possible education to prepare them for their future.”
The number of students who took the ACT test increased to 22,943 this year, which is 60 percent of Iowa’s 2010 graduating class. This year is the first time results for the entire graduating class at Des Moines Public Schools, Iowa’s largest school district, are included.
This year’s results also indicate that more students are taking at least three years each of math, science and social studies and four years of English in high school, which positively impacts test scores and provides students with the concepts and skills for success after high school. In 2010, 78 percent – or 17,990 students – reported taking these core courses compared to 17,450 students in 2009. This number is expected to continue to increase as students meet state-wide graduation requirements.
In Iowa, those who reported taking core courses achieved an average composite ACT score of 23. Those that reported taking lighter course loads in core areas had an average composite score of 19.6.
“I encourage all Iowa students to take challenging offerings at their schools based on their abilities,” said Iowa Department of Education Acting Director Kevin Fangman. “Making sure students are well prepared at graduation is a team effort: students must set meaningful goals, parents must support their student in their academic efforts, schools must provide the rigorous learning environments, and we, as a State, must have high expectations.”
Students graduating next Spring will be the first class to complete a core academic program that includes four years of English/language arts, three years of mathematics, three years of science, and three years of social studies.
In addition, Iowa school districts are in the process of implementing the Iowa Core, which requires that students learn essential concepts and skills for literacy, mathematics, science and social studies, as well as 21st century learning skills (including civic literacy, financial literacy, technology literacy, health literacy, and employability skills).
The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement test designed to measure the skills and knowledge that are taught in schools and deemed important for first-year college students to possess. The ACT, which is administered in all 50 states, is made up of four separate exams in English, reading, mathematics and science.
The Iowa Department of Education works with the State of Iowa Board of Education to provide oversight, supervision and support for the state education system, which includes public elementary and secondary schools, non-public schools that receive state accreditation, area education agencies, community colleges and teacher preparation programs. The department is committed to high levels of learning, achievement and performance for all students, so they will become successful members of their community and the workforce.