ACT scores increase among Louisiana students

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Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 3:27pm

The Department of Education today announced an increase of 3,600 public high school seniors posting scores of 18 or higher on the ACT, allowing thousands more students the opportunity to attend four-year and two-year colleges without the requirement of remedial coursework. For the graduating class of 2012, approximately 18,000 seniors scored an 18 or higher out of nearly 26,000 with an ACT score. This year, the first in which the state required that every graduate take the ACT, nearly 22,000 seniors posted an 18 or higher out of approximately 37,000 testing, a 20 percent increase in college eligible students.

Not only did the overall number of students scoring above 18 increase, but also the number of students scoring at each level of the test above 18 (the test’s top score is 36), earning more students admissions to the colleges of their choice, with scholarship opportunities.

The ACT series of tests, given in 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th grades to provide parents and students information on college and career readiness, is a central plank of Louisiana Believes, the state’s plan to ensure all children are on track to college or a career.

Research from Columbia University shows that many students who had not been directed toward taking the ACT, especially those from low-income backgrounds, score surprisingly well when given the opportunity to do so. Ten states nationwide require the ACT of all high school graduates. When Colorado and Illinois became the first states to adopt this practice, they increased the number of students tested by roughly 40 percent. Of the newly tested students, roughly 40 percent scored a college-going score. Louisiana’s results are consistent with these findings.

“This is about opportunity, especially for those students too long denied it,” said State Superintendent John White. “Some students may go directly to college. Some may pursue technical training. Others may enter the workforce and go back to school one day. The point is that they have these ACT scores in their pockets. Their right to continue their education can never be taken away.”

“We fully support the efforts to give the ACT test to students in Louisiana, and we have already seen positive results.” said Gerald Badgley, principal at C.E. Byrd High School in Shreveport. “Students who would never have considered attending college now see this as a real possibility. The ACT test serves as an academic motivation. If we in Louisiana truly desire real progress, we must embrace change in education, change that will allow our students to realistically compete in today’s global economy.”

Scores increased from 2012 to 2013 at every level. Nearly 1,700 additional students scored a 20 or above, and over 600 more students scored at 25 or above.

This increase translates into thousands of additional students qualifying for TOPS Performance, TOPS Opportunity and TOPS Tech, as well as meeting minimum ACT entry and remediation requirements for Louisiana’s system of universities and community and technical colleges.

The state’s largest communities saw significant increases in the number of students eligible for college from their communities. See below for the ten districts that saw the greatest increase in the number of college eligible students. For data on all districts, please click here.

Districts with Greatest Increase In Number

of Students with College-Going Score

Total Number

of Students

Lafayette Parish 237
St. Tammany Parish 233
East Baton Rouge Parish 224
Jefferson Parish 219
Ascension Parish 184
Calcasieu Parish 182
Caddo Parish 173
Bossier Parish 167
Quachita Parish 156
Livingston Parish 137

This year, Louisiana began factoring ACT scores into the state’s accountability system in an effort to measure college and career preparedness. Student performance on the ACT counts for 25 percent of a school’s performance score, with scores of 18 and above earning points for the school and scores below 18 earning bonus points if they show significant growth. The state ACT average for all students will be available in late August when private school students’ scores are factored into the overall number. 

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