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.1 Separates Minnesota & Wisconsin students

When it comes to ACT scores the two states are one and two in the nation with just .1 of a point difference.

This year Minnesota students posted a higher average composite score on the college placement test than did their Wisconsin counterparts.

The composite score for Minnesota students was 22.3 while Wisconsin was at 22.2.

The scores were released yesterday by the Wisconsin Department of Instruction and by ACT which is an independent, non-profit organization which conducts the annual test.

Overall, Wisconsin students beat the nation in all areas of test which includes English, math, reading and science.

This year 68 percent of all 2006 Wisconsin high school graduates took the test while in Minnesota 67 percent took the test.

"Overall, Wisconsin beat the nation on the ACT," said Elizabeth Burmaster, state superintendent. "Our 2006 graduates showed consistent performance on their subject-area and composite scores and in attaining college readiness benchmarks.

She added that the higher scores are directly related to a higher percentage of Wisconsin students taking a college-preparatory curriculum.

According to DPI, 70 percent of state students earned a benchmark score of 18 on the ACT English test compared to 69 percent nationally.

A benchmark score is the minimum score needed on an ACT subject area test to indicate a 50 percent or better chance of earning a "B" or higher grade or about a 75 percent chance of earning a "C" or better in the corresponding credit-bearing college courses.

In mathematics, 52 percent of state students earned the benchmark score of 22 or better compared with 42 percent nationally, meaning these students are ready to take college-level algebra.

In reading, 61 percent of the test-takers earned a 21 or higher on the ACT reading test, compared with 53 percent nationally.

The reading score corresponds with readiness for college-level social studies course work. For science, 35 percent of Wisconsin students earned a 24 or higher, meaning they are ready for college biology classes. Nationally, 27 percent of students earned the science (biology) benchmark score.

This year's scores in all areas were the same as in 2005 with the exception of science. That score dropped from 22.3 in 2005 to 22.2 in 2006.

More minorities in the state took the ACT this year.

DPI says that 10.9 percent of this year's test takers were minorities. These students generally did better than the national average on the test, with the exception of African-American and Asian students.

Burmaster said that DPI is aware that there is an achievement gap for minority students and says that the state must continue to fund 4-year-old kindergarten and other special programs to close the gap.

More information is available on the DPI Web site at

Complete nationwide scores are available on the ACT Web site at