NEWS RELEASES 2010-11 :: AUGUST 18, 2010


North Carolina students increased their performance on the ACT college admissions exam in 2010 with an average ACT score that was 0.9 points higher than the nation's, according to results today released by the ACT. ACT test scores are among the factors that colleges and universities use in their admissions process.

North Carolina's average ACT composite score has been increasing steadily for the past five years. In 2006, the state's average ACT score was below the nation's average (20.5 points for North Carolina versus 21.1 for the nation). In 2008, the state's average ACT score surpassed the nation's for the first time and has continued to improve since. In five years, North Carolina students have improved their average composite ACT score by 1.4 points. A change of 0.3 points is considered significant by the ACT.

"This is positive news for North Carolina students and our state," said State Superintendent June Atkinson. "Our goal is to prepare students to be successful in college and in their chosen careers. The latest ACT results show that we are making progress in getting students ready for the academic challenges they will face in college."

While most North Carolina high school students take the SAT college entrance exam, the ACT is growing in popularity. Sixteen percent of North Carolina's 2010 graduates – 14,673 students - took the ACT. The SAT, in contrast, attracted 63 percent of North Carolina graduates in 2009, the latest year for which SAT scores are available. Nationally, 42 percent of all high school graduates took the ACT. (The national, state and district SAT results will be released in September.)

"My administration has made it a primary mission to raise the bar in our schools and ensure that every single student graduates fully prepared for college, technical school or a career," said Gov. Bev Perdue. "These test scores show that with each class, with each year of strengthening our teaching and classroom environment, we're closer to that goal."

Among North Carolina's ACT-tested 2010 high school graduates, 30 percent met or surpassed all four of ACT's College Readiness Benchmarks (English, math, reading, and science) compared with 24 percent nationally. That figure has grown steadily over the past five years, up from 19 percent in 2006.

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. The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible composite score.

Data reflect scores from both public and private high school students. Local district and/or individual school scores are not available. National and state ACT results can be accessed by going to the ACT's website at

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 160 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.