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NEWS RELEASES 2007-08

NEWS RELEASES 2007-08 :: AUGUST 15, 2007

NORTH CAROLINA ACT SCORES INCREASED IN 2007

North Carolina students increased their performance on the ACT college admissions exam in 2007, scoring just two-tenths of a point lower than the national average, according to results released by the ACT today. ACT test scores are among the factors that colleges and universities use in their admissions process.

North Carolina's average composite score increased by .5 points from 2006 to 2007 and totaled 21 points. The national average composite rose by .1 to 21.2 points. A change of .3 points is considered significant by the ACT. The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score.

While most North Carolina high school students take the SAT college entrance exam, the ACT is growing in popularity. A record number (12,202) of North Carolina graduates took the test. This represents 16 percent of the state's public and private school graduates. The SAT, in contrast, attracted 71 percent of North Carolina graduates in 2006. Nationally, 1.3 million public and private school students took the ACT, which represented 42 percent of all graduations in the nation.

The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement test consisting of four separate exams in English, reading, mathematics and science, in addition to an optional writing test.

North Carolina's average composite score increased by .5 points from 2006 to 2007 and totaled 21 points. The national average composite rose by .1 to 21.2 points. A change of .3 points is considered significant by the ACT. The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score.

An increasing number of students taking the ACT indicated that they had completed or exceeded the minimum core coursework that ACT recommends for college preparation. This year, 55 percent of students indicated that they had met or exceeded the minimum for college preparation, up from 52 percent in 2006. Students who complete the minimum coursework generally score higher on the ACT and earn better college grades.

"We know that what students do in high school determines their opportunities later in life," said State Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee. "The ACT reinforces this. If students complete more mathematics, science and other rigorous coursework, their performance shows it and their chances of success increase."

State Superintendent June Atkinson encouraged parents and middle school and high school guidance counselors to take note. "Students need to begin to strategically make their course selections as early as middle school. Building a strong foundation in mathematics, in writing and in the sciences will open doors for students later on."

ACT defines the core college-preparatory curriculum as four or more years of English and three or more years each of mathematics (algebra and above), social studies, and natural sciences. Nationally, seniors in the Class of 2007 who took the core curriculum or more earned an average composite score of 22.0. For North Carolina students, the average was 21.8.

Students who took less than the core courses typically score two-three points lower overall.

Scores on the ACT vary by race/ethnicity as well as by level of academic preparation. North Carolina's African American students had a composite score of 18.0 (17.7 nationally) for students who took at least the core curriculum and 15.7 (16.1 nationally) for those who did not. American Indians in North Carolina who took the core curriculum or more scored 19.7 (20.3 nationally) while American Indians who did not take the core scored 16.9 (17.6 nationally). White students in North Carolina who took at least the core scored 22.9 (23.0 nationally); white students with less than the core curriculum scored 21.3 (20.7 nationally). Hispanic students with the core curriculum or more scored 20.8 (19.5 nationally) while those with less than the core curriculum scored 19 (17.7 nationally). Asian American/Pacific Islander students taking the core or more scored 23.5 in North Carolina (23.1 nationally) versus 20.9 for students with less than the core (21.4 nationally).

Local district and/or school scores are not available. National and state ACT results can be accessed by going to the 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. 28.

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.