| For Immediate Release
August 18, 2004
NOTE TO EDITORS/REPORTERS: The information contained
in this release and accompanying materials report information
about students in the high school graduating class of 2004
who took the ACT. Districts and schools receive similar information
about their students. ISBE does not release district or school
ACT data. Please contact district and school offices for local
Illinois ACT Scores Rise: Second straight year since
all public high school juniors began taking ACT
SPRINGFIELD, IL The average score in Illinois rose
for the second straight year in 2004. Illinois graduating
seniors in 2004 earned an average composite score of 20.3
on the ACT, up from 20.2 last year and 20.1 in 2001.
This is the third year in which Illinois ACT results
included the scores of virtually all graduates in the state.
All public high school graduates took the ACT as part of the
state-mandated Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE) for 11th
graders. More than 132,000 graduates in the class of 200499
percent of the graduating classtook the exam. The results
are for public school 11th graders (public
and non-public schools) who would have taken the ACT during
the 2002-2003 school year, as well as students who have taken
the ACT as recent as June in Illinois. Only a students
most recent score is reflected in the composite.
Once again, we are encouraged by the results of the
ACT and our testing of all juniors, said State Superintendent
of Education Robert Schiller. In addition to the scores,
it is estimated that thousands of Illinois 11th
graders who may not have considered college have earned ACT
scores which demonstrate that they are ready for college-level
work, said Schiller.
"The increase in Illinois graduates' ACT scores this
year is statistically significant in and of itselfthat
is, it is a meaningful change which is not simply related
to chance," said Cynthia Schmeiser, ACT's senior vice
president of research and development. "But, the more
meaningful result is the continued growth in Illinois scores
over time. This upward trend points to significant improvement
in the state." Currently Illinois and Colorado are the
only two states that use the ACT, which is aligned with their
learning standards to assess all of their junior class.
Prior to 2002, the ACT results in Illinois were based only
on college-bound seniors who took the test on a voluntary
basis. Next year testing will be strengthened by the recently
signed SB 2769 which makes the taking of the PSAE a graduation
requirement, which will prevent schools from dissuading juniors
from taking the exams.
The results continue to show that Illinois students who take
a college-prep curriculum outscore their counterparts statewide
and nationally. Known as a core curriculum, students
who took three or more years of math, science and English
did better than the national average. 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.
We are seeing more students taking rigorous course
work, particularly among females who are making strides,
said Schiller. Those results, of students in core curriculum,
once again point to the need for increasing the graduation
requirements as we have advocated for all along. Right now
Illinois has the lowest math graduation requirements in the
This years Illinois college-prep students earned a
composite of 22.4 compared to the national core curriculum
average of 21.9. About 41 percent of the 132,525 students
who took the test indicated they followed a core curriculum
course of study.
Disconcerting are the results for African-Americans
and Hispanic subgroups who are not taking rigorous courses,
said Schiller. While we see more students taking advantage
of the ACT and may use it as a pathway to college, we are
disturbed by the reporting of their courses that may leave
them unprepared for success in college.
Illinois experienced a slight drop in scores in 2002 when
the state began giving the ACT to 11th graders as part of
the PSAE in 2001. The test was included because it is a curriculum-based
achievement test aligned with state learning standards in
English, mathematics, reading and science.
We expected a drop, said Schiller. However,
the scores have been rising steadily the past two years and
it is expected that this will be a long-term trend.
The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the
highest possible score. The test is administered in all 50
states and is the predominant college entrance exam in 25
Results of the 2003 include:
- 42 students earned a perfect score of 36 compared to 34
- Prior to 2002, when mostly college-bound students took
the optional test, males outscored females. From 2002, the
scores were closer, with females edging out males.
- Females continue to slightly outscore their male counterparts
for the past three years. The composite for females is 20.3;
20.2 for males. These were both at 20.2 last year.
- The number of Illinois high school graduates earning an
ACT composite score of 18 (the low end of the range for
college admission) or higher was 27 percent higher in 2003
than in 2001.
- More Illinois high school graduates were ready for college
algebra (up 21%) and English composition (up 29%) in 2003
than 2001 based on ACT scores.
- The number of in-state, ACT-tested minorities enrolled
in Illinois colleges increased by 17 percent in 2002 over
ACT is an independent, not-for-profit organization that
provides assessment, research, information and program-management
services in the broad areas of education planning, career
planning and work force development. Each year, ACT serves
millions of people in high schools, colleges, professional
associations, businesses and government agenciesnationally
For more information about ACT, visit www.act.org.
ACT High School Profie Report--H
S Graduating Class 2004 - State Composite for Illinois
Illinois ACT Data