CHARLESTON, W.Va. — More West Virginia students are taking the ACT college entrance exam than in the past, according to data released Thursday by ACT. Between 2013 and 2017, the number of students in West Virginia taking the ACT has increased by five percent. Additionally, West Virginia’s number of 69 percent tested remains consistently higher than the national average of 60 percent.
Across the state, the results of the test are mixed. Scores decreased in English, reading, math and science, though West Virginia’s test takers scored higher than the national average in English and on par with the national average in reading. The average composite score for the state decreased from 20.7 in 2016 to 20.4 in 2017.
“Our summative assessment results show positive gains for our students, but the ACT results highlight areas where more work is needed,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Steven Paine. “I am thrilled to see the increased desire of our students to take a college entrance exam. Now we need to make sure we are preparing our students to perform at their best.”
The results also indicate 95 percent of ACT-tested graduates in West Virginia plan to enroll in post-secondary education. This number was the same as last year’s percentage, though in actuality only 69 percent of 2016 ACT-tested graduates enrolled in a post-secondary program.
“We want to close that aspirational gap,” Paine said. “We want each and every student who desires to continue his or her education after high school to have the opportunities to do so. This will take a coordinated effort among the West Virginia Department of Education, state legislators and institutions of higher learning statewide, but it is a cause that deserves our attention.”
Another key finding from the ACT Condition of College and Career Readiness report was that more than half of West Virginia graduates (59 percent) expressed having an interest in STEM majors and/or careers. However, only 11 percent of test takers in 2017 met the ACT STEM College Readiness Benchmark.
“Our students show a desire to go into STEM-related fields, which is why the West Virginia Department of Education is ramping up STEM offerings statewide,” said Dr. Lou Maynus, Assistant Superintendent, Division of Teaching and Learning. “We know that these skills are desired by current employers and will fuel the jobs of the future, and we think it is wonderful that our students have a passion for these subjects. It is our duty to ensure that they receive the best education possible to support that passion.”
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.
West Virginia’s complete results can be found by visiting: www.act.org/condition2017