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ACT Participation Jumps; Scores Hold Steady

- MEDIA CONTACT: GaDOE Communications office, (404) 463-1487,   - Follow us on  Facebook  and  Twitter        August 19, 2009  -- Georgia’s ACT scores remained steady in 2009 even as participation on the college entrance exam jumped by nearly nine percent in one year.     About 40 percent of Georgia’s 2009 graduating seniors took the ACT and had an average composite score of 20.6, the same as last year. The national average composite score was 21.1, also the same as 2008, according to ACT's annual report. Georgia seniors were tied for 40th on the ACT, up from 41st in 2008 and 47th in 2005.     “Even with a dramatic increase in participation, Georgia’s ACT scores held onto the gains we’ve made the past few years and our national rank improved,” said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox.     Superintendent Cox pointed out that when the scores are broken down by race, Georgia students are actually outscoring the nation across the board. According to the 2009 ACT report:     - Georgia’s African American students had an average composite score of 17.4, higher than the national average of 16.9.     - Georgia’s Hispanic students had an average composite score of 20.0, higher than the national average of 18.7     - Georgia’s Caucasian students had an average composite score of 22.6, higher than the national average of 22.2     “When you get behind the numbers, you can see that Georgia students are actually outperforming their peers from across the nation,” Superintendent Cox said. “However, Georgia must remain focused and determined to provide all students with a high quality education so that we can close the achievement gap and prepare our students for the 21st century.”     The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement test designed to measure college readiness and preparation. The ACT includes four separate exams in English, reading, mathematics and science. There is also an optional writing portion. The exam is scored on a scale from 0 to 36.    Readiness and Rigor      The report provides strong evidence that Georgia is making the right moves in education by setting higher standards and raising expectations.     According to the ACT, 19 percent of Georgia seniors demonstrated college-readiness in all four areas of the test, the same as last year. Nationally, about 23 percent of ACT test-takers demonstrated college-readiness, also unchanged from 2008.     The ACT has identified six specific steps that states can take to better prepare their students for college and careers. Those recommendations include adopting a rigorous core curriculum for all students, establishing a longitudinal data system and defining college-and-career readiness.     "The good news is that Georgia is already doing everything the ACT recommends and much more," said Superintendent Cox. "I know we are on the right path for education in Georgia and we are already seeing the results. But I am confident that in the not-too-distant future, Georgia will see even greater gains in student achievement."    Growing Numbers      The number of seniors taking the ACT has increased to over 36,000 -- up more than 50 percent since 2005. The number of African-American students taking the ACT has nearly doubled in that time with 11,759 of last year's seniors having taken the exam.     "More Georgia students take the SAT, but the numbers are getting closer," said Superintendent Cox. Additionally, she said, fewer students are taking the SAT a second or third time. Last year, about 55 percent of Georgia students took the SAT more than once, down eight points since 2005. Superintendent Cox said it appears that instead of taking the SAT a second time, some students are taking the ACT.     "We must make sure our students are ready for whatever exam they choose to take," Superintendent Cox said. “We know that our teachers, students and school communities are working harder than ever to make that happen.”     SAT scores will be released August 25 by the College Board.    MORE INFORMATION  -  Georgia's ACT Report  -  National ACT Report  -  National Press Release    SCHOOL AND DISTRICT SCORES Note:  This data was produced by the ACT, not the Georgia Department of Education. Any questions and concerns about the data should be directed to ACT officials.  -  School-Level Scores  -  System-Level Scores    TOP SCHOOL AND DISTRICT PERFORMERS   Note:  The score for schools and districts with 10 or fewer test-takers are not included.