JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Fewer Missouri high school graduates took the ACT college entrance exam this year but scored collectively better than a year ago, according to figures released today.
Missouri's average score increased slightly, from 21.4 last year to 21.5 in 2002, according to ACT Inc., a non-profit company based in Iowa City, Iowa, which offers the test.
A total of 41,316 Missouri high school graduates took the ACT this year, down from the 42,678 test-takers last year.
Orlo Shroyer, Missouri's deputy commissioner of education, said the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was pleased with the report.
"From the initial numbers, we continue to be pleased that our scores continue to increase," Shroyer said. "A tenth of a point doesn't sound like much, but with a test like the ACT, that's significant."
Nationally, the class of 2002 had an average composite score of 20.8 on the ACT, down slightly from the 21 recorded by every class since 1997. The number of test-takers nationwide was 1.1 million.
Over the last decade, Missouri has consistently ranked above the national ACT scores. Students from Missouri's public schools, private schools, charter schools and home- schooled students were all included in the ACT scores.
The ACT is designed to assess knowledge and skills in English, reading, math and science.
A breakdown by race and ethnic groups who have taken the core curriculum showed that Asian students scored better on the ACT than five other distinct groups, with an average of 22.3. They were followed by white students at 21.9; Hispanic, 20.8; American Indian 20.6; Mexican-American, 19.9; and blacks, 17.5.