The ACT scores are just out for the 2009 graduating seniors who took the tests as sophomores, juniors or seniors and it is not great news across the land, and certainly not in Texas. As far as biology goes, we're not exactly wowing the galaxy with our knowledge.
And the ethnicity gap remains stark and glaring, with only 5 percent of African-American students in Texas and 9 percent of Hispanics in Texas who took the test meeting minimum standards in all four areas of the college readiness test.
The highest score possible on the four parts of the test, and overall, is 36. ACT also sets minimum standards, known as benchmarks, that indicate how ready a kid is to actually tackle college-level work.
Of the 82,640 Texas graduating seniors who took the test, 22 percent met the College Benchmark Readiness Scores. What that means is that 22 percent met the minimum score needed on ACT subject-area tests to indicate a 50 percent chance of getting a B or higher or about a 75 percent change of getting a C or higher in the corresponding credit-bearing college courses.
The college courses assessed were English Composition, Algebra, Social Science and Biology. Broken down into their individual categories, there were some more encouraging results:
For instance, 63 percent of Texas students met the ACT English College Benchmark score of 18 (as compared to 67 percent nationally).
Another 49 percent met the Social Science minimum of 21 (compared to 53 percent nationally).
In math, 44 percent of the Texas kids met the minimum score of 22 (we even beat the national mark here of 42 percent ).
Biology was the lowest individual category with 26 percent of Texas students (28 percent nationally) meeting the benchmark score of 24.
How does this compare to previous years? In the 2008 graduating class, 20 percent of Texas students met the benchmark. So that's two more percentage points of gain. Average ACT scores only improved from 20.7 to 20.8 (compared to national which stayed the same at 21.1).
So the operative word here has to be flat.
Broken down into ethnic groups, the results showed:
English -- 80 percent of whites and Asian Americans met the benchmark, 67 percent of American Indians, 44 percent of Hispanics and 36 percent of African Americans.
Math -- 76 percent of Asian Americans met the benchmark, 59 percent of whites, 46 percent of American Indians, 26 percent of Hispanics and 16 percent of African Americans.
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Reading -- 66 percent of Asian Americans, 65 percent of whites, 54 percent of American Indians, 31 percent of Hispanics and 22 percent of African Americans.
Science -- 48 percent of Asian Americans, 37 percent of whites, 28 percent of American Indians, 12 percent of Hispanics and 7 percent of African Americans.
Overall -- 43 percent of Asian Americans, 31 percent of whites, 23 percent of American Indians, 9 percent of Hispanics and 5 percent of African Americans.
For more test results and how these numbers correlate to what courses these kids are taking in high school, have a look at the reporting site.