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WV Students Continue To Show Progress on ACT Assessment

August 21, 2003

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -West Virginia seniors in the graduating class of 2003 continue to perform well on the ACT Assessment. The state’s average ACT Assessment composite score remained at 20.3, one of the highest averages in the past six years. The ACT Assessment measures students’ skills and knowledge in four separate exams in English, reading, mathematics and science.  

Scores in mathematics have increased for the third year. In 2001, the average was 18.9. The 2002 score was 19.1. This year’s average of 19.2 is the highest in five years.  

English scores remained the same as last year. However, the 2002 and 2003 score of 20.3 is an increase compared to the 1999 score of 20.1. Reading and science scores show a stable five-year trend.  

Approximately 250 more students in the state took the ACT in 2003 than last year. Sixty-three percent of the 2003 graduating class took the to ACT; the highest percent of students in the last five years. West Virginia males slightly out-performed females with a composite score of 20.5 to the score of 20.2 for the females. However, the females outscored males on the English and reading tests. “While I am encouraged by the 2003 ACT scores, we still have a lot of work to do,” said State Superintendent of Schools David Stewart. “ I want to put an increased emphasis on mathematics. Even though our math numbers are increasing, it is vital that we work on our math scores if we expect our children to have successful college careers.”  

The composite scores on the national level are unchanged from last year; the national composite score is 20.8. In English, the national average rose to 20.3 from 20.2 in 2002. Nationally, the mathematics and science scores did not increase from 2002; the average continues to be 20.6 for mathematics and 20.8 for science. The reading scores increased slightly to 21.2 from 21.1 in 2002.  

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. Students who took college core and advanced courses typically perform better on the ACT Assessment than those who do not, as does taking additional courses. For example, adding speech to the course taken by a West Virginia student adds .8 to their English score.  

The West Virginia Department of Education is committed to increasing scores on the ACT Assessment. On July 1, 2003, the West Virginia Content Standards, Objectives and Performance Descriptors were implemented to establish high expectations in all K-12 content areas. This curriculum framework, which is aligned to scientifically based national standards, defines what a student should know and be able to do at each grade level. With the opening of the 2003-2004 school year, teachers throughout West Virginia will receive professional development on strategies aimed at promoting these increased expectations for their students. West Virginia will focus on continued professional development to build the skills for teachers.  

In addition, the Department of Education was awarded grants in 1998 in excess of $5 million for Project MERIT to work with middle school mathematics teachers. Also over the next six years, the state will receive $43 million in Reading First grants to improve children’s reading achievement through scientifically proven methods of instruction.  

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

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