Facebook Twitter



Utah students who took the American College Testing exams in 1994 topped national performance averages in all but mathematics - and they were right at the national average in that category.

The Utah scores showed a significant increase in science reasoning and also indicated improvement in English and reading.Since 1988, Utah composite scores have risen consistently while the national scores have showed only minimal improvement, a report from the State Office of Education shows. (See related chart. Scores range from 1 to 36.)

In all, 19,957 students - approximately 71 percent of the Class of 1994 - took the ACT test. The large percentage of test-takers in Utah makes the results more impressive, state education leaders said, because more lower-scoring students are included in the group, depressing the average scores. Substantially smaller percentages of students take the ACT test in many other states.

The 1994 Utah results also indicated the gap is narrowing between males and females in mathematics, science reasoning and reading. Girls scored higher on the English test, as they have in the past. The number of females taking advanced math classes and more science courses is increasing, bringing the ACT scores for the two genders closer, the SOE reported.

The differences in scores on English, however, "demand strong efforts to improve the scores of males in English at all grade levels," the report says.

The test results showed that students who take a rigorous high school program (at least four years of English and three of math, social studies and science) outscored others who took the ACT. The average composite score for this group was 22.5, compared with 20.5 for those who took a less rigorous schedule of classes.

David E. Nelson, director of assessment for the state office, said the improvement in Utah scores this year was better than for any state in the Western or Plains regions.

Nationally, education leaders decried the failure of many teenagers to take the tougher courses such as calculus and chemistry that would prepare them for college.

The scores also maintained a poorer showing for minority groups, although there were more in these groups who took the 1994 test.

American Indians improved their composite score slightly, rising from 18.4 to 18.5. The averages for other groups included Mexican American/Latino, 18.4; Latino/Puerto Rican, 19.3; Asians/Pacific Islanders, 21.7.



ACT scores

Utah and national average scores


1993 1994 1993 1994

English 20.8 20.9 20.3 20.3

Mathematics 20.2 20.2 20.1 20.2

Reading 21.8 22.0 21.2 21.2

Science reasoning 21.3 21.6 20.8 20.9

Composite 21.1 21.3 20.7 20.8

ACT standard scores are based on a scale on which a particular student might obtain a low of 1 up to a high of 36.

Source: Utah State Office of Education