Baesler Praises ND Students’ ACT Results

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For Immediate Release
Contact: Dale Wetzel, Public Information Specialist
Office: 701-328-2247
Cell: 701-400-8557

BISMARCK, N.D., Oct. 19, 2018 – State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said Thursday that North Dakota’s most recent high school graduates ranked fourth on their average composite score on the ACT, a widely used college entrance exam.

The rankings compared student scores in 19 states that require all high school students to take the ACT. In that group, North Dakota students finished in the top five in ratings of students who were considered college-ready in English, reading, mathematics and science, according to an ACT report that was made public this week.

"I’m proud of the fact that when you compare the 19 states that require all of their 11th graders to take the ACT exam, that North Dakota ranks in the top five in English, mathematics, reading and science," Baesler said.

North Dakota students had an average composite ACT score of 20.3, which tied the state of Ohio as the fourth-highest score. The top state was Minnesota (21.3), followed by Wisconsin (20.5) and Utah (20.4).

In rankings of the percentage of students in the 19 states who were judged college-ready in the four tested subjects, North Dakota’s students ranked second in reading, third in math, fourth in science and 5th in English, the ACT report says.

North Dakota’s composite ACT score has been identical for three straight years. Nationally, composite test scores, as well as those for the four constituent subjects of math, English, reading and science, have been dropping.

"When you look at the rest of the nation, the scores have tended to be declining," Baesler said. "Our students in North Dakota have been able to consistently remain steady in their scores and their performance. It is a credit to our teachers and to our communities."

"Are we happy with the fact that we’re staying steady? It’s better than dipping, but certainly it is our goal in North Dakota to make sure that more of our students are more prepared to enter college when they leave our high schools," Baesler said.

State law requires North Dakota 11th-graders to take the ACT. The report includes 7,282 North Dakota students who were part of last spring’s 2018 graduating class. About 1.91 million students from across the country were included.

Student participation in the ACT varies widely from state to state. In the new report, Connecticut’s high school students had the nation’s highest composite score of 25.6, but only 26 percent of the state’s graduates sat for the exam.

North Dakota and 18 other states have universal participation: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.