SD's ACT scores top US average
State and national ACT scores are in for 2011, and they indicate scores over the last five years have remained fairly steady.
According to ACT's College and Career Readiness report for South Dakota, the state's senior high school students remain above the national average in four subjects by as much as 7 percent.
The national college admission and placement exam is meant to prepare students for higher education.
Nearly 7,000 of South Dakota's high school graduates in 2011, about 81 percent, took the ACT in preparation for college or career training, according to the study.
South Dakota ranks high in the four benchmarks -- English, reading, math and science -- with 72 percent of last year's seniors meeting the English benchmark. However, the numbers decline from there as 58 percent met reading, 52 percent met math and 37 percent met science.
A mere 29 percent met all four benchmarks, 17 percent met three, 17 percent met two, 16 percent met only one, and 21 percent of the seniors didn't meet any of the benchmarks, according to the study.
The good news for South Dakota is the students are well above the national ranks in each subject. Nationally, 66 percent of 2011 seniors met the English benchmark; 52 percent met reading; 45 percent met math; and 30 percent met science. Only 25 percent of seniors met all four subjects.
Nationally, 28 percent of seniors didn't meet any benchmarks; 15 percent met one; 17 percent met two; and 15 percent met three.
This year, South Dakota seniors' average composite ACT score was 21.8. The national average was 21.1.
The study emphasizes that high school students who take at least the core classes -- four years of English and three years each of math, science and social studies -- perform better on the ACT and are better prepared for college or career training.
In 2011, 73 percent of students in South Dakota who took the recommended core classes or more met the English benchmark. Sixty-two percent of students who took less than the core classes met the benchmark.
Fifty-four percent of students who took the core classes or more met the math benchmark. Only 6 percent met the benchmark who took less than the core classes.
Most races and ethnicities throughout the U.S. take the minimum core high school curriculum -- 76 percent of white people; 63 percent of American Indians; 72 percent of Hispanics; and 74 percent overall.
Over the last five years, South Dakota's high school seniors' scores have dropped slightly in English from 75 to 72 percent.
The scores have stayed steady, however, in reading at 58 percent and risen in math from 50 to 52 percent; risen in science from 34 to 37 percent; and risen overall from 27 to 29 percent.