ACT scores hold steady as test-taking pool expands

Average scores on the ACT college entrance exam held steady for the high school class of 2009, a sign of modest progress considering the pool of students taking the test continues to expand, reports the Associated Press — and yet the scores suggest many students still enter college unprepared for college-level work in some subjects. Nationally, more students earned scores indicating they’re prepared to succeed in college in all four areas tested by the ACT: English, math, reading, and science. However, the increases were slight, and more than three-quarters of graduates still fail to meet that benchmark, suggesting those who went on to college need remedial work in at least one subject. Last spring’s seniors averaged a composite score of 21.1, on the test’s scale of 1 to 36. Sub-scores on English, math, and reading were unchanged, while science inched up 0.1 points. The percent reaching college-readiness benchmarks in all four subjects rose to 23 percent, from 22 for the class of 2008. A record 1.48 million students graduating in 2009 took the ACT. That’s up 4 percent from the year before, despite a dip in the number of high school seniors nationally–and up 25 percent over four years. "We’ve got more in the pool," said Jon Erickson, vice president of educational services for the not-for-profit ACT. "Now we’ve got to get better swimmers."

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