News

For Immediate Release
August 22, 2012

Illinois earns top ACT score among states that test all students; Number of students College Ready increases


Illinois tested nearly 2,400 more students in 2012, with steady gains in the percentage of students meeting College Readiness Benchmarks


SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today announced that the graduating Class of 2012 once again received the highest composite ACT score among the nine states that tested 100 percent of 2012 graduates. Additionally, the state has shown continued improvement in the percentage of graduates who meet ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks over the last five years.

“Since Illinois began administering the ACT to all 11th grade students more than a decade ago, the state has been ahead of the curve in emphasizing college and career readiness,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “Illinois, once more, had the highest composite ACT score among states that require the ACT for all students, showing that our efforts are paying off. We are confident that our more rigorous learning standards will not only improve test scores but ensure that more students excel in their academic pursuits after high school.”

Illinois tested nearly 2,400 more students than the previous year while maintaining its composite score of 20.9.  In addition, the percentage of students  meeting all four College Readiness Benchmarks increased from 23 percent in 2011 to 25 percent in 2012.

"The outstanding achievement by so many of Illinois’ brightest students is an example of what can be accomplished through hard work and a commitment to education," Governor Pat Quinn said. "It is vital that Illinois continue to invest in education so that our children can compete in the 21st century economy."

Although the 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. The eight other states with 100 percent of 2012 graduates taking the ACT are: Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming.  At least three more states added universal ACT testing last year with scores to be reported for the Class of 2013.

Since 2003, Illinois' composite score has been among the highest for the group of states that annually test all of their students.

In 2012, 146,822 students included in Illinois’ Class of 2012 took the ACT, up by nearly 2,400 from 2011 and an increase of 3,000-plus students since 2008 when 143,734 students took the test. The average Illinois ACT composite score increased over that same time period, rising from 20.7 in 2008 to 20.9 in 2011 and 2012. The national score - which includes many states where only self-selected, college-bound students are taking the test as opposed to all students in the state - meanwhile, has remained steady around 21.

The ACT also measures academic performance within the framework of college and career readiness. To be considered college and career ready, students must possess the skills and knowledge required to enroll and succeed in a post-secondary institution.

The ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks are minimum scores needed on the ACT subject area tests to indicate a chance of obtaining a C or higher in corresponding credit-bearing first-year college courses, which include English Composition, College Algebra, Biology and an introductory social science course.

The number of Illinois graduates meeting ACT College Readiness Benchmarks has increased over the last five years, with 25 percent of students meeting all four subject areas in 2012 compared to 22 percent in 2008.

"The increase Illinois has seen in the last five years in the percent of students meeting all four benchmarks is indeed significant,” said Paul Weeks, ACT’s vice president of college and career readiness. “ACT research shows that students who meet the College Readiness Benchmarks are more likely to enroll, persist and graduate from postsecondary institutions.”

In 2010, Illinois adopted the internationally benchmarked Common Core Learning Standards in English and Math for grades K-12. The Standards, written 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.

Five-Year Trend Composite Scores
 
2008
2012
Illinois
20.7
20.9
National
21.1
21.1

The year-to-year composite score for Illinois students mirrored the national average by holding steady from 2010 to 2011.

Year-to-Year Composite Scores
 
2011
2012
Illinois
20.9
20.9
National
21.1
21.1

Illinois students have made gains in all four subject areas from 2008 to 2012.

Five-Year Illinois Subject Area Scores
Subject
2008
2012
English
20.4
20.5
Mathematics
20.7
21
Reading
20.6
20.7
Science
20.5
20.8

Illinois first required all students to take the ACT in 2001 as part of the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE) during students’ junior year. Today’s results represent the latest scores achieved by all Illinois 2012 graduates in both public and private schools.

The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score.

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