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Washington ACT Participation Continues to Increase

OLYMPIA — September 8, 2017 — Participation among Washington state students rose dramatically on ACT tests in 2017, according to data released today by the testing company.

A total of 19,581 students in the Class of 2017 took the ACT, up 17.6 percent from the Class of 2016, and up 36.8 percent from the Class of 2013. Nationally, participation decreased by 2.9 percent from 2016 to 2017 but has increased by 12.8 percent from 2013 to 2017.

“While the ACT isn’t aligned to our state standards, it’s yet another measure educators can use to gauge student progress,” said Chris Reykdal, Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“The ACT is also a positive indicator about college. We want more students to have access to postsecondary opportunities. Increased ACT participation is showing that they are getting that access.”

Reykdal said that he was particularly pleased that participation among different groups of students increased. About 53.9 percent more African American students took the ACT in 2017 than in 2016 (897 students in 2017); for Hispanic/Latino students, 52.9 percent more took the tests in 2017 than in 2016 (3,554 students in 2017).

Washington’s average composite score for the Class of 2017 was 21.9, slightly above the national average of 21.0. The number includes both public and private school students. Composite scores are the average of scores from four content areas: English, reading, math and science. Scores for each test are scaled from 1 (lowest) to 36 (highest).

The average scores of Washington students in all four content areas exceeded the national average.

Reykdal noted that the average composite score was lower than that of the Class of 2016, which averaged 23.1 “That decline in the composite score is to be expected as more students take the tests for the first time,” he said.

Reykdal also noted the decline in performance on 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, 36 percent of students taking the ACT met the benchmarks in all four content areas; nationwide, the figure was 27 percent. For Washington students in the Class of 2016, 43 percent met the benchmarks in all four content areas.

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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 Chris Reykdal, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and improve student achievement 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 9/8/2017

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