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ACT Scores for Mississippi Juniors Increase

August 18, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education released today the results from the statewide administration of the ACT to all high school juniors in the 2015-16 school year, revealing the percentage of students meeting the benchmark scores in all four tested subjects increased from 9 percent in 2014-15 to 11 percent in 2015-16.

Mississippi juniors saw their average scores increase in all four ACT subjects of English, math, reading and science, with the average composite score increasing from 17.6 in 2014-15 to 18.3 in 2015-16. The majority of student subgroups showed improvement.

“These score increases are encouraging and can be further improved if we continue to challenge high school students with higher level coursework,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “It is important that students take the right kinds of courses in the right sequence so that they are prepared for college and for work.”

ACT research has also shown that taking certain specific courses in high school substantially increases students’ readiness for college level work as well as their readiness for workforce training programs.

Among the 29,852 students who took the ACT in 2015-16 while in the 11th grade, 40 percent reported having taken four or more years of English and three or more years each of math, social studies and natural science. These students outperformed their peers who reported taking fewer courses in these subjects.

ACT is a curriculum-based assessment designed to measure the skills high school teachers teach and what instructors of entry-level college courses expect.

An ACT benchmark score is the minimum score needed on an ACT subject-area test to indicate a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or higher in the corresponding credit-bearing college courses, which include English Composition, Algebra, Social Science and Biology.

For students whose benchmark scores fell between 15 and 18, many districts will continue to offer the Southern Regional Education Board’s senior year math and literacy readiness courses. These readiness courses were developed specifically to help close the readiness gap for students who are on the cusp of meeting the ACT benchmark scores. The courses focus on reading, writing and math skills students must have to succeed in the workplace or college.

The Mississippi Department of Education will continue to offer districts training related to analyzing ACT data, evaluating course taking patterns and designing ACT preparation courses.

View school- and district-level ACT results for juniors here.

Media Contact: 
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications

Jean Cook, APR
Communications Specialist