For Immediate Release 
August 19, 2009

Class of 2009 Shows Consistent Gains on ACT; Overall Score Increases and 3 of 4 Subject Areas See Gains

Illinois leads states that test 90 percent or more students

Springfield – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today announced the class of 2009 has maintained or made gains in all subject areas tested on the ACT from 2008 to 2009, increasing its composite score for the third year in a row. Additionally, Illinois students posted the highest composite score of the seven states nationwide in which 90% or more students take the ACT. 

“This continued, gradual improvement on the ACT is promising news. When we made the switch to testing all of our students with the ACT, not just those who are planning to go to college, we saw a sharp drop, but we are making up for that now with this steady improvement,’’ said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “Other states have seen what we’re doing here in Illinois and are also moving toward universal testing to better prepare all students for the next steps after graduation. We need to keep the momentum going toward better preparation by developing learning standards that truly challenge our students and prepare them for competing against the best in the world.’’

Illinois students made gains or maintained achievement in three of the four subject areas from 2007 to 2008:


 llinois’ composite scores for the past five years have increased a half point, with increases of one-tenth of a point each of the last three years. This beats the national average, which has increased by only 2-tenths of a point during the same timeframe.

 Five-Year Trend Composite Scores


Although ACT is designed for students who plan to attend college, Illinois requires all 11th graders, unless they’re exempt, to take the ACT as part of the required state testing under the federal No Child Left Behind Law. Illinois’ composite average of 20.8 ties it with Colorado for the highest composite average of states with 90% or more graduates tested. Other states with 90% or more of their graduates taking the ACT include Tennessee, Wyoming, Michigan, Kentucky and Mississippi.

The number of Illinois graduates taking the ACT has increased by more than 7,000 since 2005 with nearly 144,000 taking the test in 2008. Today’s results represent the latest scores achieved by all Illinois 2009 graduates in both public and private schools.

Illinois is currently updating its learning standards and is a leader in the drive for internationally benchmarked standards. Illinois was one of the first states to join the Common Core Standards Initiative, a state-led process to develop a common core of standards in English language arts and mathematics for grades K-12. The initiative, under the leadership of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) aims to better prepare students for college and career.