Topeka Kansas students continue to score well on average on a national college entrance exam, posting a 21.6 composite on the ACT exam.
The figures, released Wednesday by the Iowa City, Iowa-based ACT Inc., show students from the Sunflower State remain at the top of the class in score and numbers taking the test, scoring above the national average of 20.8.
Andy Tompkins, state commissioner of education, said the scores showed students were overcoming the challenges brought on by increased standards and funding constraints, among other distractions of the previous year.
"We feel pretty good about the scores," Tompkins said.
Marlene Merrill, assessment director for Lawrence public schools, said scores for Lawrence high school students wouldn't be available until today but that she expected the numbers to be above average.
"Our scores are pretty high far above national and state averages," Merrill said. "Our scores have consistently been between 23.1 and 23.7 the last couple of years."
About 60 percent of Lawrence seniors take the ACT, she said.
Kansas reported 23,590 students taking the test in 2002, down from the 24,380 a year earlier. Students posted an average score of 21 in English, 21.3 in math, 22.1 in reading and 21.5 in science. Those numbers mirror the state's 2001 results, which were English, 21; math, 21.2; reading, 22.1; and science 21.7.
Tompkins said the slight decline in science was not a great concern from one year to the next, but he added it would be troubling if the decline continued.
Nationally, more than 1.1 million students took the test, with averages of 20.2 in English, 20.6 in math, 21.1 in reading and 20.8 in science.
The ACT is designed to assess knowledge and skills in English, reading, math and science and is scored on a scale of 1-36. Used with a student's grade-point average, it's intended to be a predictor of first-year college performance.
In Kansas, the ACT score has gained more importance with the enactment 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.
The ACT can also factor heavily into merit and need-based scholarships awarded by universities hoping to attract scholars, including Kansas and Kansas State universities.
A breakdown by race and ethnic groups who have taken the core curriculum showed whites scored better on the ACT than five other distinct groups, with an average of 22.9. They were followed by Asian students at 21.7; American Indian, 21.4; Hispanic, 21.2; Mexican-American, 20.3; and blacks, 18.3.