Arkansas still below national average on ACT

(August 20, 2003) - (Little Rock-AP) -- The nonprofit organization that sponsors the A-C-T says Arkansas students scored slightly below the national average this year. The more than 21-thousand Arkansas students who took the standardized test scored an average of 20-point-three. The national average is 20-point-eight. A perfect score on the test is 36. The A-C-T is used by many colleges to help determine which students they will admit. The ACT tests students in English, mathematics, reading, and science. It is generally taken by college-bound seniors, and state colleges and universities in Arkansas require applicants to take the test. From previous years, the Arkansas average composite score was 20-point-two in 2002, 20-point-one in 2001, 20-point-three in 2000, 20-point- three in 1999, and 20-point-one in 1994. State Education Department Director Ray Simon says the test results for the 2003 graduates are "a positive sign." He noted that students showed slight gains in the four subject areas, rising from 20-point-five in English last year to 20-point-seven this year, 19-point-two in math last year to 19-point-three this year, 20-point-five in reading last year to 20-point-six this year, and 20 in science last year to 20-point-one this year.