Kansas ACT scores above national average but change little

TOPEKA (KSNT/AP) — Kansas high school students are scoring better on average than their peers nationally on the ACT college entrance exam and a higher percentage appear ready for college courses, though figures released Wednesday show their average scores haven’t changed much in recent years.

The State Department of Education noted that ACT, based in Iowa City, Iowa, said 32 percent of the state’s 2015 high school graduates taking the test met all benchmarks for college readiness — up from 28 percent for 2011 graduates and better than the national figure of 28 percent for 2015.

“We’re optimistic,” said department spokeswoman Denise Kahler. “We think there’s a lot of good growth to come.”

ACT released figures for students graduating in 2015, whether they took the test during their sophomore, junior or senior years. About 23,700 of the state’s graduates, or 74 percent, took the test, compared with the national average of 59 percent.

The average composite score this year for Kansas was 21.9 on a 36-point scale, compared with the national average of 21. It was 22 for Kansas graduates in both 2011 and 2014.

Kansas ACT

The state’s average composite score for this year was 21st in the nation, and the average scores for math, reading, English and science were either 21st or 22nd.

2015
2014
English
21.3
21.4
Reading
22.4
22.5
Math
21.6
21.7
Science
21.8
21.8
(ACT college readiness benchmark scores are: English, 18; Reading, 22; Math, 22; and Science 23.)


ACT expressed concern that students’ average scores nationally haven’t improved significantly in recent years.

But Kahler noted that more students are taking the test, 1.9 million for this year’s senior class, compared with 1.6 million for 2011 graduates. Also, 74 percent of Kansas high school graduating seniors took the 2015 ACT compared to 59 percent nationally.

Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson said: “Clearly, we all are proud of the great work our Kansas students, teachers and schools are doing, but it’s important to keep the results of this and any assessment in perspective. You are going to hear me say over and over again that assessments are one snapshot in time of a student’s academic readiness for postsecondary pursuits – whether those pursuits lead to college or careers. Academics alone cannot guarantee success. We would be doing our kids a disservice to not work equally hard on developing soft skills like persistence, conscientiousness, and teamwork.”

 

A release sent to KSNT News says that Watson is referencing the result of community conversations held earlier this year with Kansas residents and members of the business community. Those conversations, conducted by the Department of Education, saw “soft skills” cited seven times more than academic skills by parents, teachers, students, businesses, and representatives of higher education as they described their vision of a successful 24-year-old Kansan. The rate was even higher for members of the business community.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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