South Dakota high school seniors top national average on ACT assessment

South Dakota high school seniors top national average on ACT assessment South Dakota's high-school seniors earned an average composite score of 21.5 on the ACT

Assessment for 2004, surpassing the national average of 20.9. State scores increased slightly in three of the four subject areas tested, English, math and reading, while the science score remained the same as in 2003.

"Once again, South Dakota students outperformed their peers across the nation," said Gov. Mike Rounds. "We are pleased with the results, and yet, we realize that as a state, we must continue to improve the transition between high school and postsecondary education."

Seventy-five percent of South Dakota's graduating seniors took the ACT Assessment, up from 70 percent in 2003. Nationally, 40 percent of high-school seniors took the assessment, which is one of two widely accepted college admission exams.

Of the 7,408 South Dakota students who took the test, 59 percent reported taking the core coursework recommended by ACT for students preparing to enter college. That core coursework includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social sciences, and three years or more of natural sciences. South Dakota students who took the ACT-recommended core courses earned an average score of 22.6. Those students who didn't take the core courses had an average score of 19.9.

"The fact that we've got 75 percent of seniors in South Dakota who take the ACT indicates that our young people are committed to continuing their education," said Dr. Rick Melmer, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Education. "That's a great sign, but we also know that we have room to grow."

when it comes to preparing these students for academic success at the college level."

According to Melmer, efforts such as the proposed, more rigorous graduation requirements directly address the issue of college readiness.

The ACT Assessment is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score. The assessment includes scores for four individual subject areas, as well as a composite score.

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