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NEWS RELEASES 2005-06

NEWS RELEASES 2005-06 :: AUGUST 17, 2005

NORTH CAROLINA'S ACT SCORES DECREASE SLIGHTLY IN 2005

The average composite ACT assessment scores of North Carolina students decreased slightly and scores for students in the nation held steady in 2005, according to results from the ACT college admissions and placement exam released today. State and national results on the test are among the factors colleges use in their admissions process.

North Carolina is considered to be an SAT state because the majority of students in this state take the SAT for college entrance. The state's university system accepts either for admission. A total of 10,697 students took the ACT this year. Last year, 50,042 North Carolina students took the SAT.

The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement test made up of four separate exams in English, reading, mathematics and science, plus an optional writing test that was introduced last February. Scores for the ACT Writing Test will be reported for the first time next year for the graduating class of 2006.

North Carolina's average composite score of 20.2 decreased by one tenth of a point while the national average remained unchanged at 20.9. The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score.

Fifty-one percent of the North Carolina students who took the ACT completed the core courses that ACT recommends for students who plan to attend college. Nationally, 56 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 Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee said that it is important for students and their families to work closely with guidance counselors and teachers to ensure that students are taking a rigorous course of study in middle school and high school. "Students need to take courses that are rigorous and challenging. The ACT results show that student performance on these tests is linked to their studies in high school. By pushing themselves to take the most rigorous courses that they can, students will be better prepared for college admissions, for college success and for success in the workplace of the 21st century," Lee said.

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 2005 who took the core curriculum earned an average composite score of 21.9, the same as the previous year's score. For North Carolina, the average was 21.4, down slightly from the previous year's score of 21.5.

Students who took less than the core courses nationally earned an average score of 19.5 in 2005, slightly up from the previous year's score of 19.4. North Carolina's corresponding average was 18.4, the same as the previous year’s score.

North Carolina's Black students had a composite average score of 17.9 (17.7 nationally) for students who have taken the core curriculum and 15.6 (16.1 nationally) for those who have not. American Indians in North Carolina who took the core curriculum scored 19.9 (20.1 nationally) while American Indians who did not take the core curriculum scored 16.8 (17.4 nationally). White students in North Carolina who took the core curriculum scored 22.6 (22.8 nationally) while White students who did not take the core curriculum scored 20.7 (20.4 nationally). Mexican American students in North Carolina who took the core curriculum scored 20.0 (19.2 nationally) while Mexican American students who did not take the core curriculum scored 18.5 (17.3 nationally). Asian American students in North Carolina who took the core curriculum scored 22.4 (22.7 nationally) while Asian American students who did not take the core curriculum scored 21.1 (20.8 nationally). Hispanic students in North Carolina who took the core curriculum scored 20.3 (19.9 nationally) while Hispanic students who did not take the core curriculum scored 18.3 (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.

"It's wonderful that more and more students who might not have considered college several years ago are now making plans for education beyond high school," said Richard L. Ferguson, ACT's chief executive officer. "We also are pleased that scores are stable despite a larger number of test takers. However, there are too many students who graduated this year without all of the skills they need to be ready for college or job training."

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. 30.

For more information, please contact NCDPI's Communications Division at 919.807.3450.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 107 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 Communications and Information, 919.807.3450.