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For Immediate Release
August 16, 2006

Illinois students’ ACT test scores continue upward trend
Illinois’ ACT Scores Support College-Prep Background

SPRINGFIELD, IL – ACT results for the graduating class of 2006 released today reflect the largest increase in student test scores in the last five years, with the average composite score rising from 20.3 in 2005 to 20.5 in 2006. The increase of .20 is a tremendous achievement, particularly in a state with a population of Illinois, in which all students take the ACT.

This continues the positive upward trend in Illinois, where the average composite score was 20.1 in 2002. Composite average scores for all racial/ethnic groups increased in the 2006 results.

“Illinois is one of only two states where all students take the ACT exam. We want to be sure we’re assessing how well-prepared all our students are when they graduate from high school,” said State Superintendent of Education Randy Dunn. “With the passage of Governor Blagojevich’s Higher Standards Better Schools Act last year, we have a clear focus on preparing Illinois students for college and career success. As the increased rigor of increased high school graduation requirements is phased in over the next three years, we expect continued improvement in these test results.”

The test results point to the importance of encouraging all Illinois high school students to take a rigorous high school curriculum that is aligned with the Illinois Learning Standards. The 41 percent of Illinois’ test takers who reported that they took core college prep curriculum, scored a composite 22.6 – the highest score since all Illinois public school 11th graders starting taking the test in 2001. The national composite is 22.0.

Illinois students who reported that they did not take the “core” curriculum scored 18.9 – also the highest score to date, but still below the national “non-core composite score of 19.7.

More than 137,000 student results from the class of 2006 are reflected in the report, including all Illinois public school students. The results released by ACT are for all Illinois 11th graders taking the exam during the 2004-2005 school year, as well as students who took the ACT at an ACT test site. Each student’s most recent score is reflected in the report.

The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement test made up of four separate exams in English, reading, mathematics and science, plus an optional writing test. It 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 states.

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 administers the ACT for all students.

Other Illinois facts from the results include:

  • The number of students taking the test is up from 135,967 to 137,399.
  • The Reading composite score is 20.6.
  • 33 Illinois students scored a perfect 36.
  • African-American average composite score was 16.9 (up 0.1).
  • Hispanic average composite score was 17.7 (up 0.2).
  • The American Indian/Alaskan native average composite score was 17.6 (up 0.3).
  • Health Science and Allied Health careers received the highest number of interested students with 15,113 expressing interest in this field.

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