ACT Scores Show Increase in Oklahoma Reading Benchmarks


ACT results released today show that more Oklahoma graduating seniors are ready for college and career than in previous years.

According to ACT's 2013 Condition of College and Career Readiness report, the percentage of the state's 2013 graduates who met all four benchmarks in English, reading, science and math rose to 23 percent from 20 percent the previous two years and from 17 percent in 2008. The report is based on the results of the 2013 ACT college entrance exam.

“I’m bolstered by these results,” said State Superintendent Janet Barresi. “This shows that our education reform efforts in Oklahoma are paying dividends in student performance."

Barresi said while she is pleased with the bright spots in the state highlighted in the report, she is not satisfied.

"There is still much work to be done," she said.

A total of 28,988 students took the ACT this year; 75 percent of Oklahoma’s 2013 graduating class took the test at least once.

Oklahoma’s ACT 2013 composite score rose .1 to 20.8 over the 2012 score of 20.7, while the national composite declined from 21.1 to 20.9.

In Oklahoma, 23 percent of ACT-takers last year met all four benchmarks. Fourteen percent of students met three benchmarks, 17 percent met two, 18 percent met one and 29 percent met no benchmarks, according to the report.

Nationally, 26 percent of students met all four benchmarks. Oklahoma students, however, exceeded the national average for meeting the English benchmark -- 66 percent versus 64 percent; 45 percent of Oklahoma ACT-takers met the reading benchmark, slightly above 44 percent nationally.

Barresi said these results show that efforts to target reading instruction are translating into success.

Superintendent Barresi has hired 60 REAC3H Coaches to offer job-imbedded professional development for reading teachers throughout the state in addition to other training.

Only 37 percent of Oklahoma students met the math benchmarks, and 35 percent met the science benchmarks, compared with the national 44 percent and 36 percent figures, respectively.

Barresi pointed to the recent efforts at the State Department of Education that will help improve scores in these areas in the future.

Teams from the State Department of Education’s Office of Instruction are providing regional professional development workshops for educators throughout the state, free of charge to participants. The department also has gathered leading educators from throughout the state in science and math to participate in the inaugural class of OKSci and OKMath. This program is fashioned after Leadership Oklahoma with the goal of growing leadership participants who will work to disseminate best practices and resources with the goal of improving student performance in these subject areas.

In addition, the department is in the second year of offering Think Through Math, a digital program that prepares elementary and middle school students for Algebra. Participation in this program has doubled since the program started a year ago.

The State Department of Education also has partnered with the National Math and Science Initiative to increase the number of Advanced Placement courses available and the number of students participating in AP courses in science, math and English in selected high schools throughout the state.

Barresi said she’s confident these offerings will boost performance in all subject areas in the coming years.

Barresi said she while she is pleased with state results for minority groups, which outpaced the nation, she still would like to see more improvement and even more participation in the future. A breakdown by ethnicity shows:

  • Black/African American students made up 7 percent of the ACT-tested population, 2,067 students compared to 8 percent, 2,306 students in 2012. The composite score for this population was 17.4, which outdistanced the composite score of 16.9 achieved by national counterparts.
  • American Indian/Alaska Native students made up 8 percent of those tested, 2,428 students, compared to 9 percent, 2,723 student sin 2012 – a decline for the third consecutive year. The ACT composite score for this population was 19.0, significantly above the national composite of 18.0.
  • Hispanic/Latino students represent 10 percent of the ACT-tested population, 2,856 students, up from 9 percent or 2,717 students in 2012 – an increase for the sixth consecutive year. The composite score was 19.0, much higher than the national of 18.2. Hispanic/Latino participation has increased by 92 percent over the last five years.
  • White students make up 57 percent of those tested, 16,418 students, compared to 58 percent, 16,989 students, in 2012. White students earned a composite score of 21.7, up .1 from 2012 but still below the national composite of 22.2.
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Last updated on August 26, 2013