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West Virginia ACT Scores Record Highest Average in Five Years

August 21, 2002

West Virginia seniors in the graduating class of 2002 scored an average ACT Assessment composite score of 20.3, which is the highest average over the last five years. The ACT Assessment measures students’ skills and knowledge in four separate exams in English, reading, mathematics and science.  

ACT composite scores in West Virginia have increased over the past five years, from 20.1 to 20.3, supporting the department’s endeavors to increase ACT scores for West Virginia students. The five-year trend for scores in English, mathematics and reading increased while the trend for science reasoning remained stable. Fewer students in the state took the ACT in 2002 than in the last four years; however, this is a reflection of the declining student population in the state. Sixty-one percent of the 2002 graduating class took the ACT.  

In West Virginia, the males slightly out-performed the females with a composite score of 20.5 to a score of 20.2 for the females. However, the females outscored the males on the English and reading tests.  

While the scores in West Virginia were higher, the scores on the national level dropped slightly in 2002 to 20.8 from the 2001 score of 21.0. With Colorado and Illinois now using the ACT as part of their statewide assessment programs, the number of students who took the ACT increased nationally. In these two states, all 11th graders were required to take the ACT College Assessment. This expanded pool of test takers represents a more diverse group of students than ever before. More than 30,000 additional students who participated in the 2002 ACT were not planning to attend college or take “college prep” courses. Thus, the drop in the national ACT composite score was not a surprise to ACT.  

Along with their assessment results, students receive Standards for Transition statements. By looking at the statement for their corresponding ACT composite and subtest scores, students learn what they are most likely mastering in high school. Those who self-reported higher grade point averages generally performed better on the ACT than those with lower self-reported grade point averages, a direct response to the design of the ACT Assessment to measure academic achievement.  

The West Virginia Department of Education is focused on increasing scores on the ACT Assessment. In 1996, ACT EXPLORE (a pre-ACT test for eighth graders) was added to the statewide assessment program to assist students in course selection. Counselors have been trained on how to use the data from ACT EXPLORE to work with these students. In 1998, the West Virginia Department of Education was awarded grants, in excess of $5 million, for Project MERIT to work with middle school mathematics teachers. In 2001, ACT PLAN (the second pre-ACT Assessment test for 10th graders) was added to the statewide assessment program. Beginning in 2004, the revised Policy 2510 will require four mathematics courses, which will provide the same number of West Virginia core requirements as the ACT core requirements.  

For more information regarding the ACT Assessment, please contact Dr. Beth Cipoletti, Office of Student Services and Assessment, at (304) 558-2546.

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