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August 18, 2009 - Oklahoma Sees Gains in Math, Science ACT Scores

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Oklahoma high school seniors who took the ACT test last spring showed modest gains in math and science over their 2008 state counterparts, a new report shows.

Data released today by ACT indicates that this year’s senior class scored an average of 19.9 in math and 20.5 in science on the ACT test, which is 0.1 point higher than last year’s scores in both areas.

This compares to a national average of 21.0 in math and 20.9 in science. The national average in math remained unchanged from last year; however the average in science increased by 0.1 point.

“It is important to note that Oklahoma’s students’ ACT scores in math and science are on the rise,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “In fact, this year’s math scores equal the record high scores achieved in 2000. It is important that we continue to challenge students to take more rigorous courses in high school in preparation for college. ACT scores serve as an important benchmark in our student’s educational attainment process and provide an insight into areas that need attention.”

The report shows that this year’s senior class scored an average of 20.7 on the ACT test, unchanged from the previous two years’ average score. The national average for 2009 graduates was 21.1, also unchanged from 2008.

The state’s scores in English and reading also remain unchanged from last year’s score of 20.5 and 21.4, respectively.

Oklahoma’s three largest groups of minority students continue to perform above their national peers. Native Americans have outscored their national counterparts for the last five years. The composite ACT for Native Americans in Oklahoma increased two-tenths of a point to 19.7 for 2009, which is eight-tenths of a point higher than their national peers. African Americans scored three-tenths of a point higher than their national peers in 2009. Hispanic graduates’ composite scores fell one-tenth of a point in 2009 to 18.8 although they outscore their national peers by one-tenth of a point. In 2009, minorities accounted for 36 percent of Oklahoma test takers.

The total number of Oklahoma students taking the ACT was 27,054, a slight decline from last year. Although student participation is down from the previous year, more than 70 percent of the Oklahoma graduating class of 2009 took the ACT compared to the 45 percent of graduates tested nationally.

Many Oklahoma students are taking more challenging courses that better prepare them for college. In 2009 there was a 9 percent increase from the previous year for all Oklahoma students taking a college preparatory core curriculum. This also represents the second consecutive year for increases in all racial-ethnic groups.

“Gov. Brad Henry’s Achieving Classroom Excellence initiative, the Oklahoma Educational Planning and Assessment System (OK EPAS) program and the eligibility requirements for the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship will continue to make a significant difference in increasing the number of students who are prepared for the ACT and ready for college-level work,” said Johnson.

Although the state is making great strides by encouraging students to take more rigorous courses in high school, many Oklahoma students fail to meet ACT’s benchmark scores that measure the number of graduates likely to be prepared for college-level work. As few as 18 percent of students met all four of ACT’s benchmark scores in English, college algebra, social science and biology. This is five points below the national average.

Even though students scored higher in math this year, the subject remains an area of weakness in Oklahoma student preparation. Much is being done to improve student academic preparation, including requiring additional units of math for graduation in response to ACE legislation. Improving course rigor through teacher professional development also helps eliminate barriers to student success in college.