Missouri’s graduating class of 2016 scored below the national average on the ACT standardized exam, while Kansas students scored slightly above the national average, according to results released Wednesday.
The ACT is used by most colleges and universities to determine academic qualifications for admissions. The highest possible ACT score is 36.
Missouri tested all of its graduating high schoolers, and in that measurement, it was in the middle of the pack among the 18 states that tested all seniors.
The average composite ACT score for the Missouri class of 2016 was 20.2, compared with the national composite score of 20.8.
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Nationally, 64 percent of all 2016 high school graduates took the ACT.
Kansas tested 74 percent of its 2016 graduating class, or 24,488 students, the largest number in five years. Kansas landed an average composite score of 21.9, which was unchanged from last year’s score.
Typically, a state’s overall composite ACT score drops as more students take the test. The composite score is the average of the most recent scores of all graduates.
“We are extremely proud of Kansas’ students, teachers and schools,” Kansas Commissioner of Education Randy Watson, said in a statement Wednesday. “Academic skills are important, and the ACT exam is one measure to indicate if our students are ready for postsecondary success.”
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said the latest results reflect the performance of an entire senior class. The results give Missouri a new baseline for the state, meaning this score can’t be compared to ACT performance in previous years.
In 2015, Missouri began paying one time for every 11th-grade student each year to take the ACT. Those students’ scores are included in the data released Wednesday. In the years before the state began paying for every 11th-grader to take the test, Missouri students’ participation ranged from 71 to 77 percent of the graduating class.
Other states where 100 percent of the graduating class was tested include Minnesota with a composite score of 21.1; Illinois, 20.8; Colorado, 20.6; Wisconsin, 20.5; and Michigan, 20.3.