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NEWS RELEASES 2003-04

NEWS RELEASES 2003-04 :: AUGUST 20, 2003

NORTH CAROLINA'S ACT SCORES HOLD STEADY

Scores of North Carolina students on the ACT Assessment remained the same for 2002-03, as did the nation's, according to 2003 national results from the ACT college admissions and placement exam released today. State and national results on the test are one of the factors colleges use in their admissions process.

North Carolina's average composite score of 19.9 remained slightly below the national average of 20.8. The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score. A total of 15 percent (10,477 students) of North Carolina graduates were tested while the national percentage tested was 40 percent. The number of ACT takers increased nationally by about 3 percent and in North Carolina by about 15 percent.

North Carolina generally is considered to be an SAT state because the vast majority of students in this state take the SAT for college entrance. The state's university system accepts either for admission.

Fifty-one percent of the North Carolina students tested completed the core courses that ACT recommends for students who want to attend college. Nationally, almost 57 percent of students tested completed the core coursework. Students who complete the core courses generally score higher on the ACT and earn better grades in college.

State Superintendent Mike Ward said the ACT results, like the SAT, are directly connected to the coursework students take in high school. "It's important for parents and guidance counselors to work with students in middle school to plan the students' course of study in high school. Students who have any thoughts of going to college need to enroll in the courses that will prepare them for this work from the beginning of their high school careers. This preparation will likely result in better ACT/SAT scores and being better prepared for college."

State Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee said the need for students to be better prepared for their next level of learning was one of the key reasons the State Board approved requiring students to select one of four courses of study in high school. The requirement was approved by the Board in August 1999 and was effective for ninth graders entering in 2000-01. The courses of study are Career Preparation, College Technical Preparation, College/University

Preparation and Occupational (only for certain students with disabilities who have an Individualized Education Program).

ACT defines the core college-preparatory curriculum as four or more years of English and three or more years each of math (algebra and above), social studies, and natural sciences. Nationally, seniors in the class of 2003 who took the core curriculum earned an average composite score of 21.8. For North Carolina, the average was 21.2.

Students who took less than the core courses nationally earned an average score of 19.3 in 2003. North Carolina's corresponding average was 18.2.

North Carolina's Black students had a composite average score of 17.4 (17.6 nationally) for students who have taken the core curriculum and 15.5 (15.9 nationally) for those who have not. American Indians in North Carolina who took the core curriculum scored 19.8 (20.0 nationally) while American Indians who did not take the core curriculum scored 16.6 (17.4 nationally). White students in North Carolina who took the core curriculum scored 22.4 (22.7 nationally) while White students who did not take the core curriculum scored 20.1 (20.1 nationally). Mexican American students in North Carolina who took the core curriculum scored 19.8 (19.1 nationally) while Mexican American students who did not take the core curriculum scored 18.7 (17.2 nationally). Asian American students in North Carolina who took the core curriculum scored 22.3 (22.4 nationally) while Asian American students who did not take the core curriculum scored 20.0 (20.2 nationally). Hispanic students in North Carolina who took the core curriculum scored 20.8 (20.1 nationally) while Hispanic students who did not take the core curriculum scored 17.6 (17.5 nationally).

Like the SAT, students choose to take the ACT and the scores do not represent the entire student population. Many factors, including coursework, student motivation, parental support and socioeconomic status, contribute to a student's achievement.

ACT officials also cited the need for students to be better prepared in math and science by taking more challenging courses in high school. "Far too few college-bound students are taking even the basic coursework necessary to prepare for college, let alone pushing themselves by taking higher-level courses," ACT's Chief Executive Officer Richard L. Ferguson said.

Local and district scores are not available. National and state ACT results can be accessed by going to ACT's Web site at http://www.act.org and clicking on the appropriate link.

The national, state and district SAT results will be released on Aug. 26.

For more information, please contact DPI's Division of Accountability Services' Reporting Section at 919.807.3769.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.


For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.