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Director Glass issues statement on Iowa's ACT results

August 22, 2012

DES MOINES, IA – Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass released the following statement in response to ACT’s annual nationwide release of assessment results today: 

“The ACT is an important and challenging assessment that helps us gauge how well our schools are preparing students for college and careers. I’m proud that Iowa’s average composite score is tied for second in the country among states that tested more than half of students in the Class of 2012; however, we’re still testing only 63 percent of students. If our goal is to have a world-class education system, we must set the right expectations for college and career readiness and then follow through with an exam as an important measure.”

Education legislation introduced this year by the Branstad-Reynolds administration included a college entrance exam for all 11th grade students as part of the state’s suite of assessments. Glass said a college entrance exam for all students is a possible legislative priority in 2013.

Iowa tied with Wisconsin for the second-highest average ACT composite score among states that tested more than half of students in the Class of 2012. Iowa and Wisconsin scored 22.1 out of a possible 36. Minnesota was first in the nation, with 22.8. The national average was 21.1.

Iowa’s average composite score is slightly lower than last year’s statewide composite score of 22.3.

The 23,119 Iowa students who took the ACT comprised 63 percent of last spring’s graduating seniors, a slight increase from the previous year.

Nationwide, ACT has experienced unprecedented growth in the number of students tested over the past decade, as well as statewide partnerships in 12 states and in many districts across the country. ACT officials say increased access to the test helps steer more students toward higher education and allows states and school districts to evaluate how well students are being prepared for college and careers.

This year’s state results show:

  • More Iowa students are taking at least three years each of math, science and social studies and at least four years of English in high school Eighty percent – or 18,499 students – reported that they took these core courses, up from 18,228 students in 2011. The number is expected to increase as students meet statewide graduation requirements.
  • Iowa students who reported taking core courses earned an average composite ACT score of 22.8, while those who took lighter course loads had an average composite score of 19.6.
  • Thirty percent of test-takers met all four of ACT’s college readiness benchmarks, down from 31 percent in the previous year. Nationwide, 25 percent of students met all four benchmarks.

The benchmarks specify the minimum scores needed to show a student has a 50 percent chance of earning a grade of B or higher, or about a 75 percent chance of earning a C grade or higher, in a typical first-year college course in English, mathematics, reading and science.

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