ACT Increases for Illinois Graduates


EMBARGOED – For Release at 12:01 A.M.
August 15, 2001
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While expressing pleasure that ACT scores increased for Illinois high school graduates in 2001, State Superintendent of Education Glenn W. McGee said he remains concerned by the achievement gap between minorities and their white classmates.

Illinois students’ average score on the ACT college entrance examination continued to inch forward while national averages remained stable for the fifth straight year. Illinois’ class of 2001 averaged 21.6 on the 36-point scale, up from 21.5 for seniors in 2000. Nationally, seniors averaged 21.0, the same as the previous four years. In contrast, Illinois averages on the ACT were 21.2 in 1997, 21.4 in 1998 and 1999, 21.5 in 2000, and 21.6 in 2001. The 2001 average is the highest level ever achieved by Illinois students.

“The good news is that Illinois scores are progressing,” said State Superintendent of Education Glenn W. McGee, “yet this year’s ACT results reinforce the need to continue our efforts to reduce the achievement gap between minorities and white students. The gap in scores is a huge concern and a situation that we must change.

“Much of the achievement gap is attributable to the huge impact of poverty on achievement,” McGee stated, ‘but the ACT report shows that participation rates in core coursework remains much less for minorities than for white students, even though participation rates of minority students increased in 2001.” ACT defines a core curriculum as at least four years of English and three years each of mathematics, social sciences and natural sciences.

As a part of the state’s new Prairie State Achievement Examination, all eleventh grade students (class of 2002) took the ACT in April. Those scores are not reflected in today’s report, which includes only scores for students graduating in 2001. Statewide results of the PSAE and its ACT component will be announced this fall.

“The ACT was incorporated into the PSAE because many of the ACT items correlate well with the Illinois Learning Standards that describe what students should know and be able to do before graduating,” McGee explained. “The fact that Illinois scores are continuing their upward trend may be another indicator that the rigorous Illinois Learning Standards are starting to take hold in our schools.”

The ACT was taken by 71% of Illinois’ 2001 public and nonpublic high school graduates.