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Illinois’ ACT score second among states that test all students

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Staff report

The Illinois State Board of Education announced today that Illinois ranks second among 12 states that provided the ACT to all graduates.

The Class of 2014 achieved a composite score of 20.7 on the ACT, trailing only Utah’s 20.8. In addition, the percentage of students meeting all four of ACT’s College and Career Readiness Benchmarks increased to 26 percent from 25 percent last year, an ISBE statement said.

Image courtesy of ACT

Image courtesy of ACT

“Illinois has been and continues to be a leader in promoting college and career readiness and we’re glad to see this increase in the percentage of students meeting those important benchmarks,” State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch said in a news release.

Starting with the 2014-2015 academic year, Illinois high school students will no longer take the Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE), which included the ACT, although the state is still making the ACT available to districts this school year. Instead, new college and career readiness assessments, known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) will be administered to high school students, as well as third- through eighth-graders.

PARCC assessments will be implemented along with new Illinois state standards, which align with Common Core. Under new legislation, all high school students are required to take an assessment that measures college and career readiness in order to receive a high school diploma.

Although the ACT will no longer be required, districts have the option this year of also administering the ACT to all 11th grade students at no cost to the district, in addition to giving students the PARCC exams, an ISBE spokesperson said.

The number of Illinois students meeting all four of ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks has increased steadily over the last five years. Twenty-three percent of graduates hit the benchmarks in 2010, 25 percent in 2013 and 26 percent in 2014. The benchmark scores indicate a student’s chance of obtaining a “C” or higher in first-year college courses in English composition, college algebra, biology and social sciences.

The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score. A total of 184 Illinois graduates earned a perfect composite score of 36 based on their most recently submitted ACTs, an increase of more than 50 from last year.

Illinois increased its composite score by 0.1 compared to 2013. Illinois’ ACT composite score is based on the 158,037 students tested in the graduating Class of 2014, compared to 160,066 included in last year’s report.

This year’s ACT state report continues to include scores from students who were allowed an extended time allotment in which to complete the test. Additionally, based on the 40,748 Illinois students who opted to take the writing portion of the ACT, Illinois received a combined English/Writing score of 23.7, which is 3.1 points higher than the 2014 national average of 20.6.

Since 2003, Illinois’ composite score has been among the highest for the group of states that annually tested all of their students. This is the second consecutive year Illinois has ranked second.

The average Illinois ACT composite score has remained steady over the last five years, rising slightly from 20.7 in 2010 to 20.9 in 2012 and sliding back to 20.7 in 2014 after ACT changed the process for calculating state composite scores to include students testing with extended time. The national score has also remained steady over the past five years.

Illinois’ ACT composite score is just slightly below the national average of 21.0, which is based primarily on the scores of self-selected, college-bound students. The vast majority of states only test students intending to go to college as opposed to Illinois, where every 11th-grader was required to take the ACT last spring as part of the PSAE.

In addition to Illinois and Utah, the other states with 100 percent of 2014 graduates who took the ACT were, Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming

Illinois first required all students to take the ACT in 2001 as part of the PSAE during students’ junior year. Today’s results represent the latest scores achieved by all Illinois 2014 graduates in both public and private schools.

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