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Wisconsin ACT results steady, state among tops in nation

Wisconsin tied with Iowa for the No. 2 spot among states with 50 percent or more of students taking the ACT college admissions exam; and the state's composite score held at 22.1, 1.2 points higher than the national average, which was 20.9.

Wisconsin had 46,574, or 71 percent, of its 2013 public and private school graduates take the ACT during their high school career. Of those students, 1,192 or 3 percent used extended time to complete the exam, an ACT-approved accommodation for eligible students. This is the first year college-reportable scores for accommodated students were included in state and national reports. Both in Wisconsin and nationally, students testing with standard time had a composite score that was 3.5 points higher than the composite score for students testing with extended time.

Nationwide, the ACT composite score for 2013 graduates dropped two-tenths of a point from the prior year. The national composite score was 20.9 with 1,799,243 students taking the ACT; 4 percent of those students (72,202) used the extended time accommodation. Minnesota's composite score was 23.0, the highest among states that have 50 percent or more of students taking the ACT.

"Our 2013 graduates performed well on the ACT college admissions exam," said State Superintendent Tony Evers. "We have work to do to get students to take the rigorous coursework that will prepare them for college and careers and will help bridge achievement gaps."

Fifteen years ago, Wisconsin reached a milestone of having two-thirds of all graduates participate in ACT testing. Since then, participation climbed and reached 71 percent of graduates the past three years. Participation will increase again as Wisconsin joins states that use the ACT as part of their statewide testing programs. Currently, 13 states have incorporated the ACT as part of their statewide assessments, and for 2013, nine states reported that 100 percent of their graduates took the ACT.

Evers proposed that all public high school students take the ACT package of college and career readiness assessments in his education budget. The governor and state Legislature adopted the state superintendent's plan, and the 2013-15 state budget included funding for Wisconsin to begin administering the ACT to all public school 11th-graders beginning in the 2014-15 school year. Wisconsin legislation also calls for ACT's PLAN, EXPLORE, and WorkKeys exams to be administered as part reforms to Wisconsin's statewide testing program.

"Changes to our statewide assessments are just one of the educational reforms Wisconsin is pursuing to improve student achievement," Evers said. "We also are working on educator evaluation and instructional practices so every graduate is ready to enter the workforce or continue their education at a college, university, or trade school."

Overall, 74 percent of Wisconsin public and private school graduates took the ACT-recommended core curriculum of four years of English and three years each of mathematics, science, and social studies. Wisconsin students taking college preparatory coursework had ACT subject scores that averaged 2.4 points higher than for state

students who didn't take ACT's "core curriculum." Disparities among racial and ethnic groups in Wisconsin are very apparent in course-taking patterns, composite scores, and college readiness benchmark results.

Also new from ACT for 2013 was a change in the reading and science college-readiness benchmark scores. The reading score needed to meet the college readiness benchmark went from 21 to 22, and the science cut score went from 24 to 23. ACT said the benchmark scores were updated to reflect its most recent college coursework research. College readiness benchmarks predict the likelihood of student success in a credit-bearing first-year college course in each specific subject area.

In Wisconsin, 80 percent of 2013 graduates who took the ACT earned one or more college readiness benchmark scores and 50 percent earned three or more benchmark scores. Nationally, 39 percent of graduates earned three or more benchmark scores.

Local district 2013 scores

New Richmond: 23.4 (up from 23.3 in 2012)

St. Croix Central: 22.8 (up from 21.9 in 2012)

Somerset: 22.1 (up from 21.7 in 2012)


Micheal Foley
Micheal Foley worked at RiverTown Multimedia from July 2013 to June 2015 as editor at the New Richmond News. 
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