More Southern and Georgia Students are Taking the ACT

Mike Klein, GPPF Editor

There are two big cats in the national college admission test industry – the SAT which is familiar in Georgia because that is what most high school students here take, and the ACT which is taken by fewer Georgia students, but like the SAT, it also has a significant national college admissions testing footprint.

Increasingly, southern states students are taking the ACT.  This week the Southern Regional Education Board said at least 50% of 2011 high school seniors took the ACT in 10 of SREB’s 16 member states.  Georgia is not among those states, but it is trending in that direction.  Last year 44 percent of Georgia seniors took the ACT.  The ratio grew to 47 percent this year.

Here is what SREB said about how southern students performed on the 2011 ACT:

“This year’s average composite ACT scores rose or held steady from 2010 in most SREB states where at least half of seniors in the Class of 2011 have taken the college admission test, even as the numbers of students taking the test and aspiring to college increased in the SREB region and the nation, according to ACT Inc. data released on August 17.

“In the 10 SREB states in which more than 50 percent of graduating seniors have taken the ACT, scores rose in Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana and South Carolina, stayed the same in Alabama and Oklahoma, and declined one-tenth of a point in Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and West Virginia. The average composite score for all SREB states was 20.2, the same as in 2010. The U.S. average composite score was 21.1, up one-tenth of a point.

“Since 2006, the number of graduating seniors taking the ACT has risen in all 16 SREB states. Use of the ACT has soared especially in Arkansas (where 91 percent of graduating seniors now have taken it), Oklahoma (now at 76 percent), Florida (now at 66 percent) and West Virginia (now at 65 percent). In Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, virtually all students take the ACT. In the region overall this year, about 618,000 graduating seniors had taken the ACT by their senior year — up by more than 185,000 from 2006, and by nearly 30,000 from last year alone.

“Hispanic students in SREB states not only increased the percentage of students tested but also increased their average composite score by two-tenths of a point. The score for black students in the region also increased, by one-tenth of a point. The regional score for white students held steady from 2010. On the ACT, each one-tenth of a point is considered significant.

“It’s promising that the SREB region’s score held steady, even as many more students took the test, especially students from underrepresented groups. It shows that aspirations for college and career training after high school are growing for all students — and that is (the) key to the future of our region,” said Joan Lord, SREB’s vice president of Education Policies.”  You can learn more about SREB initiatives and studies on its website.

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