While it may not sound like a lot, the increase of 0.1 in the ACT scores of Louisiana high school students is good news.
The composite score of Louisiana students on the college readiness test went up to 20.2 this year, up from 20.1 — out of a maximum 36 — the previous year. That’s keeping pace with growth in the national rate, and over the last decade our students have actually caught up a bit.
“The fact that we grew a tenth of a point doesn’t sound great. But it takes a lot to get that tenth of a point. And we paced the nation with its growth,” said Penny Dastugue, president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Louisiana is one of only eight states where essentially all high school graduates take the ACT. That means that the composite score could be higher if only the actually college-bound students took the test.
However, the high percentage of test-takers means that the composite score is more of a barometer of how students are being prepared in Louisiana high schools, public and private.
More good news: The average composite score for black students in Louisiana is ahead of the national average, 17.5 compared to 17 nationally.
All that said, the fact remains that Louisiana is 41st among the states. And that’s obviously not counting the students who are not staying in school long enough to get to be high school seniors.
“It’s still far too low,” Dastugue said rightly of Louisiana’s performance.
She is right, but again Louisiana is far from alone in that category: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan noted the “significant work to be done” in making America’s high school graduates ready for college or careers.
And for those interested in college?
“As minimum standards for admission at Louisiana’s public universities go up next year, it’s more important than ever for our state to be experiencing improvement on the ACT,” said Jim Purcell, Louisiana’s commissioner of higher education.
If the nation is trying harder to achieve, then Louisiana as one of the bottom tier must find ways to innovate, even supercharge, its efforts to bring out the best in the next generation.