Louisiana ACT Scores Improve, Remain Among Country’s Worst
NEW ORLEANS High school students in Louisiana showed significant improvement on a major college entrance exam this year, but the state’s average score remained among the nation’s worst, according to results released in August. Louisiana’s average score on the ACT Assessment test rose to 19.8 from last year’s 19.6, where it had been stuck since 2000. The test’s administrators said they were impressed that Louisiana’s improvement of 0.2 percent change soundly beat the nationwide improvement of 0.1 percent. “I have never seen greater positive growth” in any state in 25 years, said Dr. Carolyn Kostelecky, an ACT regional manager. Louisiana’s score remained well below the national average, which improved 0.1 percent from 2003 to 20.9. Eleven other states equaled or beat Louisiana’s improvement, but they all had less than 30 percent of their graduates taking the test — making a major improvement or drop more likely. In Louisiana, 87 percent of graduates took the ACT, the not-for-profit testing service said. Gov. Kathleen Blanco called the results “tangible evidence that Louisiana’s educational system is moving our children in the right direction.” Only two states had an average score worse than Louisiana’s: Mississippi, at 18.8, and South Carolina, with 19.3. Dr. James Meza Jr., education dean at the University of New Orleans, says it’s too early to know whether the improvement is related to the toughened standards. He said Louisiana public school students probably won’t make a significant jump closer to the national average until its high school seniors have studied under the state’s tougher standards throughout elementary, middle and high school. “It’s going to take time,” Meza says. Louisiana’s public four-year universities are also toughening their admission standards. Beginning next year, state universities with the lowest standards will require at least one of the following for admission: an ACT score of 20; a grade point average of 2.5; or a senior class rank in the top 25 percent. Among other Louisiana results: • White students’ scores in Louisiana improved from 21 in 2003 to 21.2; Black students improved from 16.7 to 16.9; and Blacks and Whites have improved 0.4 percent since 2002, the state education department said. • Students improved most in the ACT’s math portion, from 18.9 last year to 19.2 in 2004; and the national math score went from 20.6 to 20.7. • In English, scores went from 19.7 in 2003 to 19.9 this year; and the national English score went from 20.3 to 20.4. • Reading scores went from 19.8 to 19.9; and the national reading scores rose from 20.8 to 20.9. — Associated Press
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