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State of Illinois - Governor Blagojevich 

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August 20, 2003


Illinois high school students who take a college-preparatory curriculum outscored their counterparts across the country on the ACT examination, Illinois State Board of Education officials said today. The findings are part of the data released with the annual results of the test, which all Illinois 11th graders take as part of the Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE). To see data follow this link PDF File

About 41 per cent of the 134,505 Illinois’ test takers reported they take a “core” college prep curriculum. They scored a composite of 22.5, slightly higher than the 2001-02 composite of 22.4. The national composite score is 21.8.

Illinois students who do not take the “core” curriculum scored 18.5 – up .1, but still below the national “non-core” composite score of 19.3.

“The ACT scores again confirm what we have observed in the past -- that students who follow a core curriculum do better on the test,” said State Superintendent of Education Robert E. Schiller. “Our Illinois Learning Standards establish high expectations for students and teachers. But more students need to have access to rigorous courses that are aligned with those standards. The content of the courses, the sequence of the courses, and the rigor of the curricula are the key components of a quality educational program and academic experience leading to higher scores on the ACT.”

The ACT-recommended college core courses include: four or more years of English, three or more years of math, three years or more of natural sciences and three or more years of social sciences.

Although the ACT assessment is designed for students who plan to attend college, Illinois has given the test to all high school juniors since 2001. Colorado is the only other state that gives the ACT to all students.

The composite score for all 134,505 Illinois students who took the ACT test is 20.2 -- up .1 of a point from 20.1 last year. The composite still compares favorably with other states where the test-takers are mostly college-bound students.

“Statistically this is a notable increase,” said Schiller. “We have the most test takers Illinois has ever had, yet our scores still went up when national scores remained flat. We are also testing all of our 11th grade population and our scores are compared against other states where students who take the test do so as an option and precursor for college.”

Other Illinois facts from the results include:

  • The number of students taking the test is up from 128,753 to 134,505.
  • Reading composite score is 20.4
  • Math composite is 20.2
  • African-American average composite score was 16.8 (up 0.3)
  • Mexican-Americans had an average composite of 17.6 (up 0.1); Puerto Rican, Cuban and other Hispanics had an average composite of 17.5
  • Asian Americans scored an average composite of 22.1 (unchanged from 2002)
  • 34 Illinois students scored a perfect 36.
  • Males and females each scored an average and equal composite of 20.2
  • Of the 134,505 students tested – more than 33,000 did not list a choice of planned educational major or vocation.
  • Health Science and allied health received the highest number of interested students with 13,875 expressing interest in this field. 10,701 listed Business and Management as a career of choice.

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777