Average ACT Score Jumps for High School Class of 2006

August 16, 2006

Charleston, W.Va. – West Virginia students heading to college are packing the highest ACT scores in five years. The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) announced today that the average ACT score has gone up from 20.3 in 2002 to a 20.6 in 2006.  

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. The ACT is scored on a scale of one to 36. The test is administered in all 50 states and is the predominant college entrance exam in 25 states. In 2006, nearly 11 thousand (64%) of West Virginia graduating high school seniors took the ACT.  

“The upward trend in the state’s ACT composite score is encouraging,” said State Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “However, our students need to take more rigorous courses embedded with 21st century learning skills in order to compete with their counterparts globally.”  

West Virginia became the second state in the nation to join the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, along with the West Virginia Board of Education, the WVDE, state legislators, educators and other community members signed a statement of support indicating their commitment to 21st century learning. The Partnership's framework puts a special emphasis on critical thinking, problem solving, communication skills, global awareness and business literacy. As part of the system-wide implementation of 21st century learning, the Department has aligned its Content Standards and Objectives (CSO) with 21st century skills.  

English scores increased to 20.8 in 2006 from 20.5 in 2005. West Virginia’s English score is above the national English score of 20. 6. Reading scores also increased in 2006 to 21.2 from 20.9 in 2005. Scores in mathematics increased to 19.6 in 2006 from 19.3 in 2005. Science scores showed an increase as well to 20.5 in 2006 from 20.4 in 2005.  

“While I believe we are on the right path, I am concerned with the state’s mathematics ACT score,” said Paine. “The entire West Virginia school community – students, parents, teacher, administrators – have an obligation to improve our performance.”  

Another area of concern identified by the WVDE is the composite score of African American students. The average score for this student group increased from 17.5 in 2005 to 17.7 in 2006. In addition, the composite score for African American students in West Virginia is higher than the national average. However, the African American score is lower than that of other student groups.  

“We must strive to close the achievement gap between all student groups,” said Paine. “Recently the WVDE developed a High Needs Task Force. West Virginia is committed to help all students – African Americans, white, economically disadvantaged, non-English speaking, disabled and gifted – learn and succeed in the fiercely competitive global economy. This High Needs Task Force is tackling the issues facing high need students and building a powerful plan that gets to the core of what students need as they develop into 21st century citizens.”  

For more information regarding the ACT Assessment, please contact the WVDE at (304)558-2681.  

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