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results show value of
ACT scores released today continue to show the importance
of encouraging all students to take rigorous courses -- often
defined as college-preparatory – that are aligned with
the Illinois Learning Standards, according to state education
The results for the Class of 2002, the first group to take
the ACT as a required part of the Prairie State Achievement
Examination, show that students who take the core curriculum
scored much higher than their peers with less than core. ACT
defines the core curriculum as four years of English and three
or more of mathematics, social sciences and natural sciences.
State statutes require Illinois graduates to take three years
of language arts, two years of mathematics and social studies
and one of science. Local school boards set additional graduation
“Rigorous coursework that was once reserved for the
college-bound is necessary for success in the 21st Century,”
said State Superintendent of Education Robert E. Schiller.
“The Illinois Learning Standards establish those high
expectations for all our students.”
“As schools continue integrating the Illinois Learning
Standards into their curricula, students will be getting more
of the advanced knowledge provided in core courses,”
Schiller said. “We will continue doing what we can to
encourage and assist schools in their efforts to help students
achieve the rigorous targets set by the Illinois Learning
As expected with the increased population of test takers,
a smaller percentage of 2002 graduates taking the ACT reported
having taken the core curriculum: 45% compared to over 54%
of those tested in the Class of 2001.
"Illinois students who took the core curriculum earned
an average composite score of 22.4, significantly higher than
the 18.4 composite score of those who did not complete the
college prep core," said Daniel J. LaVista, Executive
Director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
"We know that two-thirds of this graduating class will
go on immediately to postsecondary education and that within
two years upwards of 75 percent will be in college. When only
45 percent of the graduating seniors report having taken the
college prep curriculum, it is clear that many students will
enter college unprepared for the academic rigors of higher
education. We simply must raise the number of students taking
the college prep core. These test results reinforce the need
to seek legislation that will strengthen the high school curriculum
for all students."
Illinois and Colorado began requiring all students to take
the ACT in 2001 as 11th graders. This is the first ACT report
of graduating seniors that reflects the scores for that increased
population. In all other states, the ACT is taken only by
college-bound students who choose to participate at national
test sites and pay the required fee. Nationally, the number
of 2002 graduates taking the ACT increased just over 46,000
and nearly 40,000 of those increased test takers were from
Illinois’ average composite ACT score for 2002 graduates
was 20.1, compared to 21.6 the previous year when the test
was taken voluntarily by those students considering college
entrance. The national average for 2002 graduates was 20.8.
“Thousands of students who had not considered college
as a possibility took the ACT as a required part of the PSAE,”
explained State Superintendent of Education Robert E. Schiller,
“and many of these students found they had college potential.
Opening these additional opportunities for future educational
and life successes makes it well worth the adjustment in average
Prior to the class of 2002, about 70% of high school graduates
in Illinois took the ACT. Nearly all 2002 graduates took the
ACT as a required portion of the PSAE.