Washington state students again score well on ACT

For the seventh consecutive year, Washington students scored far above the national average on the ACT exam, according to results released last week.

Washington students in the class of 2010 tied for eighth with Delaware, finishing behind students in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont on the ACT, which measures college readiness.

ACT test organizers do not release school district or school results.

"We know that if our students stay with us through 12th grade, they are prepared for that next step in life, whether it be college or career," state superintendent Randy Dorn said. "This continues to be the trend on national assessments and it's encouraging to see."

One out of every six Washington 12th graders (12,897) took the ACT in the 2009-2010 school year, a record for ACT participation in this state. Those students averaged a composite score of 23.0, compared to the national average of 21.0. A composite score consists of four content areas: English, reading, math and science. Scores are scaled from one (lowest) to 36 (highest).

The percentage of Washington students scoring at or above "benchmark" was significantly higher than the rest of the nation. As defined by ACT, students meeting benchmark are predicted to have a 50-percent chance of obtaining a B or higher in a corresponding college course.

For students taking four years of English, 79 percent of Washington students, compared to 66 percent nationally, met benchmark. That trend continued for students taking four years of math (61 to 43 percent), four years of social science (67 to 52 percent) and four years of natural science (41 to 29 percent). The state's composite benchmark score of 36 was far above the national average of 24.

The ACT, a curriculum-based exam, is primarily used for admission into colleges and universities. Washington students have proved to be among the nation's best in college readiness tests during much of the past decade. Last year, Washington students on the SAT finished first in the nation for the sixth straight year among states in which more than half of the eligible students took the exams. Results for this year's SAT, the nation's other test used for college admissions, likely will be released in mid-September.

Nearly 10,000 Washington students took the optional ACT writing test, averaging a composite score of 23.1 compared to the national average of 21.4.

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