AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Students' average score on the ACT in Texas increased enough to match the national average for the high school graduating class of 2013 — but far fewer youngsters here continue to take the college entrance exam than their counterparts in other states.
Results being released Wednesday show Texas students had an average composite score of 20.9 out of a possible 36, a tenth of a percentage point higher than the average score of 20.8 from last year and 2011. The 2013 national composite score slipped to 20.9 from 21.1 a year prior.
Only 37 percent of graduating Texas students took the ACT, however, down 2 percentage points from 2012. Nationwide, 54 percent of students graduating high school took the ACT, though that includes nine states where nearly all students take it.
Traditionally the ACT has been a rival college entrance exam to the SAT, but it is now taken by at least 50 percent of high school graduates in 29 states.
The ACT also provides benchmarks, or the percentage of students earning scores indicating they are ready for college in four key subjects: English, math, reading and science. Some 61 percent of Texas students met English benchmarks, while 48 percent met bookmarks in math. In reading, 43 percent of Texans met the benchmark while 36 percent scored sufficiently high to be considered college-ready in science.
The benchmarks are designed to measure the minimum score test takers should achieve in core subjects to have about a 75 percent chance of earning a grade of C or higher in a typical, first-year college courses in that area.
Nationally, 64 percent of students met ACT English benchmarks, while 44 percent met the standard in both math and reading. Some 36 percent across the country met the exam's science benchmark. That means Texas students were below the national average in English and reading college readiness but above it in math. Students statewide were on-par with their national counterparts on the science benchmark.
In total, 26 percent of ACT-tested 2013 high school graduates nationwide met all four ACT college readiness benchmarks — the same percentage as Texas test-takers.