Arizona students need better preparation for college, according to ACT scores released this week.
Based on more than 29,000 students who took the ACT last year, only 20 percent met “college readiness benchmarks” in all four subject areas: math, reading, English and science.
A benchmark score, according to the report, is the minimum score needed on a subject test to show a 50 percent chance that a student will receive a B or higher when he or she takes the corresponding college class. The benchmark score also indicates a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or higher.
Fewer Arizona students met the benchmark scores on every test compared to the national rankings.
But the percentage is higher than last year – when 18 percent of Arizona students met all four benchmarks.
The 2010, 2011 and 2012 figures are far below figures of 2009 and 2008, where 25 percent and 26 percent of Arizona students met the guidelines, respectively.
But that may be an indication of who is taking the test, education experts say.
In 2010 and 2011, grants provided funding to a number of Arizona school districts to pay its juniors to take the test, not just those electing to take the test in order to apply for college.
Even without the grants this year, 29,876 Arizona students took the test -- nearly 2,000 more than last year. In 2008 and 2009, fewer than 13,000 students took the test.
Arizona students fared best in English, where 54 percent of test takers met the college-readiness benchmark score. They scored least in science.
On the English and math tests, students who took at least five years of each subject – meaning additional classes during or prior to high school or during summer school – scored highest.
The Class of 2012 needed only three years of math and two years of science to graduate with an Arizona diploma. Seniors this year – the Class of 2013 – need one more credit in each area.
In the East Valley, Chandler Unified School District tested a vast majority of its graduating class last year. The average scores were above the state averages in every category, with an average composite score of 20.4. The state average composite score was 19.7. The national composite score was 21.1
Of 435 students who elected to take the test because of college plans, the average composite score was 23.04, far above the national average.
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