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Washington Students Continue to Score Well on ACT
Class of 2011 students finished with the nation’s ninth highest composite score

OLYMPIA – August 17, 2011 – For the eighth straight year, Washington students scored far above the national average on the ACT exam, according to results released today.

Washington students in the class of 2011 finished with the nation’s ninth highest composite score of 22.8, finishing behind students in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. The ACT, which measures college and career readiness, does not release school district or school results.

“The trend for our students on national assessments continues to be encouraging,” State Superintendent Randy Dorn said. “The students who stay in school through 12th grade and think about their future perform at a high level on these tests. I appreciate ACT’s focus on both college and career readiness. That’s important.”

One out of every five Washington 12th graders (13,677) took the ACT in the 2010-11 school year, a record for ACT participation in this state. Those students averaged a composite score of 22.8, compared to the national average of 21.0. A composite score consists of four content areas: English, reading, math and science. Scores are scaled from one (lowest) to 36 (highest).

The percentage of Washington students scoring at or above “benchmark” was significantly higher than the rest of the nation. As defined by ACT, students meeting benchmark are predicted to have a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher in a corresponding college course.

For students taking four years of English, 76 percent of Washington students, compared to 66 percent nationally, met benchmark. That trend continued for students taking three years of math (60 to 45 percent), three years of social science (64 to 52 percent) and three years of natural science (40 to 30 percent). The state’s composite benchmark score of 36 was far above the national average of 25.

The ACT, a curriculum-based exam, is primarily used for admission into colleges and universities. Washington students have proven to be among the nation’s best in college readiness tests during much of the past decade. Last year, Washington students on the SAT finished first (composite score) in the nation for the seventh straight year among states in which more than half of the eligible students took the exams. Results for this year’s SAT, the nation’s other test used for college admissions, will likely be released in mid-September.

The ACT is a legislatively approved alternative to Washington’s high schools state exams in reading, math and writing. After students take the state’s high school exam once, they can use qualifying scores from the ACT or SAT to meet the graduation requirements. Students who transfer into Washington public schools in the 11th or 12th grade can use one of the alternatives without taking a state exam.

Nearly 11,000 Washington students took the optional ACT writing test, averaging a composite score of 22.9 compared to the national average of 21.5

Participation of racial/ethnic groups continued to increase on the ACT. In addition, the achievement levels for most subgroups were higher than the national average: African Americans (18.3 to 17.5), American Indians/Alaska Natives (20.2 to 19.7), Hispanics (19.8 to 19.4) and Asian (24.0 to 24.1).


About OSPI
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K-12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine Educational Service Districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI does not discriminate and provides equal access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, gender, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sexual preference/orientation, age, veteran’s status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.

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Chris Barron
Assessment Communications Manager
(360) 725-6032

The OSPI Communications Office serves as the central point of contact for local, regional and national media covering K-12 education issues.

Communications Manager
Nathan Olson
(360) 725-6015

Assessment Communications Manager
Chris Barron
(360) 725-6032


   Updated 6/12/2015

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