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Washington’s ACT Results Continue to Rise
Scores above national average for 13th straight year, but achievement gap remains

OLYMPIA — AUGUST 24, 2016 — For the 13th straight year, Washington students scored above the national average on the ACT exam, according to results released today.

Washington’s average composite score for the graduating class of 2016 was 23.1. The number includes both public and private school students.

A “composite score” consists of four content areas: English, reading, math and science. Scores are scaled from 1 (lowest) to 36 (highest). This year’s national average composite score is 20.8.

“As they do every year, our students performed well on the ACT,” said State Superintendent Randy Dorn.

Dorn was particularly pleased about college readiness benchmarks. ACT defines the benchmarks as “the minimum score needed on an ACT subject-area test to indicate a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or higher in the corresponding credit-bearing college courses.” In Washington, 43 percent of students taking the ACT met the benchmarks in all four content areas; nationwide, the figure was only 26 percent.

“Our students who want to go to college are proving that they are ready,” Dorn said. “Credit goes to them and to their teachers for getting the students ready.”

But Dorn said he was concerned about continued achievement gaps. He cited Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander students, whose average composite score was 17.7, nearly a full point below the national average (18.6).

“We still need to do a better job of intensifying and focusing our efforts to help all students so they can have success in college and in life,” he said.

One out of every four 12th graders (16,652 students in 2016) took the ACT. Participation was down 2.1 percent from 2015 (16,994 students). Since 2012 (13,929 students), participation in the ACT has increased 19.5 percent.

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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 provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.

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Nathan Olson
Communications Manager
(360) 725-6015 |

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


   Updated 8/24/2016

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