Oklahoma schools receive ACT scores, college readiness indicators


Oklahoma high schools recently received ACT scores for students tested during the past school year along with information showing how prepared students are for college-level coursework.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi said the scores give schools guidance in areas where more attention and rigor is needed.

“We see some positive areas, such as the number of students testing and a slight uptick in math subscores,” Barresi said, “But we see other areas where we still lag behind the nation. These scores show us where more work is needed to prepare our students for life outside of high school in the 21st Century.”

A total of 29,342, or 80 percent, of the Oklahoma graduating class of 2012 took the ACT exam at least once this year, up from 76 percent in 2011 and a record high. The average composite score for the state is 20.7, a number unchanged since 2007, and below the national average of 21.1. The ACT is graded on a scale of 0-36.

The State Department of Education last week released state scores and the percent of students meeting college readiness benchmarks set by ACT. This release shows composite and subscores in core subject areas.

Average subscores for state students are:

  • 20.4 in English, below the national average of 20.5 and down from the state score of 20.5 in 2011;
  • 20.1 in math, up from the state score of 19.9 in 2011 but below the national average of 21.1;
  • 21.3 in reading, matching the national average and the state score from 2011; and
  • 20.6 in science, the same as the state score from last year and below the national average of 20.9.

Both composite scores and subscores for each public high school in the state have been posted on the State Department of Education website.

ACT scores determine whether students enrolling in post-secondary institutions are required to take remedial courses. The state Board of Education requires every high school principal to present ACT  scores for his or her school each year along with college remediation rates at their local, public board of education meeting.

The statewide average remediation rate for first-time freshmen entering college in the fall of 2010 – the most recent number available – is 41.9 percent, according to the state Regents for Higher Education. This is down from almost 43 percent in 2009-10.

State Superintendent Barresi said she’s encouraged that fewer freshmen are entering college needing remediation and wants to see that number continue to drop. “We’re starting to see that go in a positive direction,” she said.

Of the total number of state students taking the ACT this year:

  • 8 percent were African American with an average composite score of 17.4, up .2 percent from the state average last year and .4 percent about their national counterparts;
  • 9 percent were American Indian with an average score of 19.4 percent. This is still .1 percent above the national composite for this group but down .1 percent from last year’s state score, with 2 percent fewer students from this group taking the ACT;
  • 9 percent were Hispanic, up 1 percent from 2011, with a composite score of 19, up from the state score of 18.9 last year and .1 percent higher than national counterparts;
  • 58 percent were Caucasian, down from 61 percent in 2011, with an average score of 21.6 percent, the same as last year in the state and below the national average of 22.4
  • 3 percent were Asian American, the same as last year, with an average score of 22.7, up from 22.4 in the state for 2011 but below the national average of 23.6.

Barresi said this picture shows that educators need to continue their focus on having minority populations participate in Advanced Placement courses.

“We want an equal opportunity for all students to succeed,” she said.

While average subscores in the state are only slightly behind the nation, the number of high school graduates meeting college readiness benchmarks in the state shows a 9 percent lag behind the nation in math and five percent below the nation in science. Only 20 percent of graduating seniors met benchmarks in all four subject areas.

Benchmarks represent the level of achievement students need to have a 50 percent chance of securing a B or higher or a 75 percent chance of receiving a C or higher in entry-level college courses. ACT benchmarks are 18 for English composition, 21 for social sciences (reading), 22 for algebra and 24 for biology. Only 37 percent of seniors tested in Oklahoma reached the mathematics benchmark, but that is up from 35 percent in 2011; and only 26 percent met the science benchmark, but that is also up from 25 percent in 2011.

Barresi is asking educators to double their efforts in helping a greater number of students achieve higher scores in these areas in the future.

Oklahoma high schools posting the highest average ACT composite score for 2012 are:

  1. Oklahoma School for Science and Mathematics, 31.7, 66 tested *
  2. Classen School of Advanced Studies (Oklahoma City) 25.6, 102 tested *
  3. Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences, 25.5, 31 tested
  4. Edmond North High School, 24.2, 508 tested; Norman North High School, 24.2, 325 tested
  5. Jenks High School, 23.6, 573 tested
  6. Edmond Memorial High School, 23.5, 404 tested
  7. Deer Creek High School, 23.4, 211 tested
  8. Booker T. Washington High School, 23.3, 308 tested *
  9. Harding Charter Preparatory High School, 22.9, 84 tested
  10. Stillwater High School, 22.8, 300 tested; Ada Senior High School, 22.8, 99 tested; Lomega High School, 22.8, 12 tested

* Oklahoma School for Science and Mathematics, Classen School of Advanced Studies, and Booker T. Washington High School test students before granting admission.

Scores were withheld for schools with fewer than five students tested to comply with the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Other states in the region:
State, composite score, percent of graduates tested
Kansas, 21.9, 81
Missouri, 21.6, 75
Texas, 20.8, 39
Colorado, 20.6, 100
Arkansas, 20.3, 88
New Mexico, 19.9, 75

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Last updated on August 29, 2012