By SHANNON WATKINS
While national ACT scores have been dropping overall, the Virginia Department of Education shows a gain in them among Virginia students.
The ACT test, an alternative to the SATs, is accepted by some schools but not others. However, the number of students taking the ACT increases each year; in Virginia the number of students taking the ACT rose by over two percent.
Virginia’s public school students achieved a composite score of 22.4, compared with 20.9 for public school graduates nationwide. The performance of Virginia public school students improved on all components of the ACT while the achievement of their peers nationwide was down across the board.
“As more Virginia students take the ACT, its importance — as an external indicator of the effectiveness of policies and standards promoting college readiness — increases,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright. “The scores of 2013 graduates continue the upward trend we have seen since Virginia students began taking the ACT in larger numbers in recent years.”
The percentage of Virginia public school students meeting ACT college-readiness benchmarks was 10 or more points higher than the percentages nationwide. The benchmarks identify students whose scores indicate they are prepared for first-year college English composition, reading, algebra and biology.
The overall composite score for Virginia high school graduates — public, private and homeschooled — was 22.6, compared with 20.9 for graduates nationwide. Twenty-six percent of all 2013 Virginia graduates took the ACT, up from 25 percent the year before.
ACT results are reported on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score. Fifteen 2013 Virginia graduates achieved perfect scores on the test.
According to Superintendant Dr. Tom Brewster, Virginia colleges and universities only accept SATs at this time, so few Pulaski students take ACT, unless they are going to college in surrounding states like Kentucky or Tennessee, which require ACT for admission. According to Pulaski County Schools Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Academic Support Stacey Heller, only 25 Pulaski County students took the ACT is 2013.