KU's chancellor intends to raise the average ACT score of freshmen to a record high in five years.
Acting in the best interests of students, Kansas University leaders vow to substantially raise the average ACT score of incoming freshmen.
KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway wants to boost the average score on American College Testing program's exam by 0.2 points in each of the next five years.
"We will recruit the best students, and the good students will follow," Hemenway said.
Given that the university's ACT average stagnated at 23.4 over the past five years, climbing to a record-high 24.4 will be a challenge. The statewide ACT average is 20.2. The maximum score is 36.
"It's going to take some scholarship dollars to do that. Some targeted recruiting as well," said David Shulenburger, KU vice chancellor for academic affairs.
Statistics indicate students with higher ACT scores have a better chance of academic success in college. That's why KU wants them, Shulenburger said.
"The better ability student we bring in, the more likely it is that student is going to graduate," he said.
Improving KU's graduation rate by attracting more high-caliber students has financial implications for the state's higher education budget.
"We believe that in this state, which is short of resources, that this is a move we should take. The state's resources will go further," Shulenburger said.
The best way for high school juniors and seniors to excel on the ACT is to take a challenging courseload in high school. A core curriculum with four years of English, three years of math, three years of natural sciences and three years of social sciences can give test-takers an edge.
A new report by the ACT Corporation indicated Kansas students who took this core curriculum scored 7 percent higher on the test than the national average.
"That is good news for students in Kansas because it shows the control students can have over their future," said Stephen Jordan, executive director of the Kansas Board of Regents.
Regents have jurisdiction over KU and five other state universities.
Shulenburger believes KU's average ACT could surpass the 1-point goal. He'll appoint a committee soon to identify ways of offering special academic opportunities to new students with ACT scores in the 27-30 range.
These students don't automatically qualify for the university's acclaimed honors program, but Shulenburger said they deserve recognition because each is among the state's top high school graduates.
The ACT is taken by 60 percent of college-bound students. A counterpart is the SAT, a verbal and math skills exam given by the Educational Testing Service.