Topeka Students in the Sunflower State remain at the head of the class with their scores on the ACT college entrance exam.
Kansas students posted an average composite score of 21.6, with 78 percent of the senior class taking the exam. Nationally, 38 percent of seniors took the exam before graduation.
Education Commissioner Andy Tompkins said the continued strength spoke well of the state.
"While we know we still face challenges in helping all students succeed, the trend we have seen in our state's ACT results offers us confirmation that we are on the right path to meeting that challenge," Tompkins said.
Nationwide, the class of 2001 had an average ACT composite score of 21, holding with the average that has been recorded every year since 1997, according to ACT, a nonprofit based in Iowa City, Iowa. Oregon had the highest average composite score at 22.6, with the test taken by 11 percent of the students.
Kansas is one of six states where 75 percent or more of the students took the test. The other five are Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota and Tennessee.
The ACT is designed to assess knowledge and skills in English, reading, math and science and is scored on a scale of 1 to 36. Used with a student's grade point average, it's intended to be a predictor of first-year college performance.
Kansas reported 24,380 students taking the test in 2001, posting an average score of 21 in English, 21.2 in math, 22.1 in reading and 21.7 in science. Nationally, more than 1 million students to the test, with averages of 20.5 in English, 20.7 in math, 21.3 in reading and 21 in science.
In Kansas, the ACT score has gained more importance with the implementation of qualified admissions standards to the six state universities.
Legislators approved qualified admissions in 1996, requiring that Kansas students seeking admission to state universities either have a 2.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale, score at least 21 on the ACT, or rank in the top one-third of their graduating class.
Tompkins said the state expected to see an increase in the number of students taking the ACT and a core, or college prepatory, curriculum. The number increased to 68 percent taking the core courses in 2001 compared to 57 in 2000.
Students taking the core classes traditionally score better on the ACT, Topkins said. This year, those taking the core classes had a composite average of 22.6 compared to 19.7 for those who completed less than the core.
Nationally, students who took the core classes had an average score of 21.9, while those completing less than the core scored a composite of 19.5.