Washington Kansas students scored higher, on average, than their national counterparts on the latest ACT tests, an annual report by the testing organization said.
The report, released Thursday, said the average composite score in Kansas was 21.6, compared to the national average of 21.0. The top possible score is 36 on the set of tests, formerly known as the American College Testing assessments.
Education Commissioner Andy Tompkins said he was pleased with the ACT results but added the state still needs to address differences in test scores along ethnic and socioeconomic lines.
"I love the good news, but we've got to still do better," Tompkins said. "We have kids who aren't learning well. Over time, I sure wish we could reduce those gaps."
With the 21.6 average, Kansas students ranked first among five states where at least 75 percent of the students took the college-entrance exam.
Education officials say as more students take the tests, a state's average composite score typically drops. In Kansas, 77.5 percent of graduating seniors took the tests, up 3.5 percent from 1999.
Nationally, 38 percent of seniors graduating this year took the tests.
The average composite score for Kansas students increased 0.1 in the past year, while the national average held steady.
Harold Voth, Kansas State Board of Education chairman, said he was particularly pleased that Kansas scores improved while more students took the tests.
"That's great news," said Voth of Haven.
Kathy Toelkes, spokeswoman for the Department of Education, pointed out that the number of Kansas students taking the ACT who had completed college preparatory coursework increased from 54 percent to 57 percent in the past year.
She also said the average ACT score in Kansas has exceeded the national average the past several years.
"Overall, it's some encouraging news," Toelkes said.
The ACT, which measures skills in English, math, reading and science, is one of two major entrance examinations. Results from the other one, the SAT, are expected to be released later this month.
On the Net: ACT, Inc.: http://www.act.org