Kansas ACT scores still above national average

? High school seniors in Kansas continue to score better on the ACT college entrance exam than their counterparts across the nation, and their marks are slightly higher than they were four years ago.

ACT, a nonprofit company based in Iowa City, Iowa, said Wednesday that the average composite score for Kansas seniors graduating this year was 22 on a 36-point scale. The national average was 21.1.

The average composite score for Kansas in 2004 was 21.6, also above the national average. The average scores in English, reading, math and science for Kansas seniors also rose slightly compared to 2004.

“It’s very good news,” said Bill Wagnon, State Board of Education chairman. “The superior quality of the Kansas education system is demonstrated by these kind of figures.”

Fifteen states had higher average composite scores than Kansas, but none tested as high a percentage of graduating high school seniors.

In Kansas, almost 24,000 of the seniors who graduated this spring, or about 74 percent, took the ACT. The average nationwide was 43 percent, and in Massachusetts, which led the nation with an average composite score of 23.6, only 17 percent of seniors took the test.

Kansas Education Commissioner Alexa Posny said the percentage of seniors taking the test is important because as it grows, average scores tend to drop.

Colorado, Illinois and Michigan now require their high school juniors to take the test.

Posny said she’d like to see a similar requirement in Kansas, but the issue is cost. Students pay $46 to take the test, and if Kansas required it for all students, it would have to pay their costs, about $1.7 million a year. Posny said it wouldn’t be fair for the state to pay for only selected students’ tests.

“It would give us a great indication of how we’re doing across the board for every student,” Posny said.

Results for this year’s graduating Kansas seniors showed that scores for black, Hispanic and American Indian students continued to lag behind their white counterparts. The average composite score for black students was 17.9, 19.4 for Hispanic students and 20.2 for Indian students.

The average composite score for white students was 22.5. The average composite score for Asian students was slightly higher, 22.6.