CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia graduates are holding steady with students across the nation according to data released on Wednesday by ACT. West Virginia’s composite score on the college entrance exam remained the same in 2013 at 20.6 while the national composite score declined from 21.1 to 20.9 over the same period of time.
Across the state, 11,426 of this year’s high school graduates took the ACT. Of the state’s graduating class, 63 percent took the ACT at least once.
The state 2013 ACT average English score was 20.5; math, 19.5; reading, 21.3; and science, 20.6. Also noteworthy, African American students earned a composite score of 17.5 percent outdistancing their national counterparts who earned a composite of 16.9 percent.
“We still have a lot of work to do but I am proud of the progress made by our teachers, students and parents,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Jim Phares. “As we move forward we must continue to have an unwavering focus on preparing our students for future personal and professional success and a stronger and healthier state economy.”
According to ACT’s yearly report, The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2013, college and career readiness problems persist among U.S. high school graduates, with the majority ill-prepared for success at the next level. In West Virginia, only 20 percent of the test takers met all four of the ACT college readiness benchmarks. The ACT college readiness benchmarks are scores used to indicate a student has at least a 50 percent chance of getting a grade of B or higher in first-year college courses.
Sixty-nine percent of West Virginia students scored at levels indicating they were ready for freshman English courses, compared to 64 percent of students nationwide. In reading, 45 percent of state test-takers were ready for freshman courses, ranking above the national percentage of 44. Thirty-three percent of West Virginia students were college ready in math, compared to 44 percent nationally. In science, 34 percent of West Virginia students were ready, compared to a national average of 36 percent.
This year the college readiness bar was raised for two ACT benchmark scores. The benchmark score in reading went up by one point, while the score in science went down by one point (each subject is scored on a one to 36 scoring scale). The raising of the college readiness bar could be the reason for West Virginia’s 8 percent decline in reading and 9 percent increase in science scores. West Virginia should have a better base of comparison of ACT performance when there are at least two years of performance data under a consistent scoring system.
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 test is administered in all 50 states and is the predominant college entrance exam in 25 states, including West Virginia. ACT also assesses a student’s ability to succeed in college.
For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education's Office of Communication at (304) 558-2699.