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Superintendent Column

By Staff | Sep 20, 2013

You may have read last month in the Fargo Forum that the average ACT score for the class of 2013 in North Dakota dipped below the national average. The class of 2013 average composite score in reading, English, math and science was a 20.5 on a 36 point scale. The national average was a 20.9. Many parents and educators may be questioning why North Dakota dropped below the national average. There are some misunderstandings that should be cleared up.

The press release does not tell the whole story. In 2011, North Dakota started mandatory ACT testing for all students in the 11th grade. There are only 10 other states out of 50 that test all of their kids. That means that only college-bound students are taking the ACT test in 40 other states. In North Dakota every junior in every school takes the ACT. The data should be compared with the 10 states that test all kids, but it gets lumped together with all states. Therefore, when compared to other states that only test college-bound students, North Dakota dips below the national average.

The final issue that has caused a dip in ACT scores is a change in how the data is reported. ACT now includes scores of students that need accommodations (additional test time) in the overall composite score. In the past this group had not been included in the average of ACT state scores. This group is large enough to have a significant impact on our state’s ACT average composite.

Where do our students in Rugby stand? Our district average went up 1.4 points from the previous year to an average composite of 21.4. This is well above the state 20.5 and national 20.9 average. The ACT is a test that predicts the college readiness of students nearing the end of their high school career. Please take this information into account when people question our states ACT scores and how they are calculated.

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