Maryland Students' Performance On Act Up Slightly

August 20, 2009|By Arin Gencer | Arin Gencer,

Maryland students continued to post slight gains on the ACT this year, with scores consistently remaining above the national average, according to results released Wednesday for the Class of 2009.

"This is a reflection of the quality of the instruction that students are receiving," said state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, who also noted Maryland's better performance relative to neighboring states on the national standardized test taken by students applying for college.

The percentage of "college ready" students rose by one point from last year, to 30 percent - compared with 23 percent nationwide, according to the state ACT report. That figure is based on meeting all four benchmark scores - minimum scores needed to show a student's chance of getting a C or higher in the corresponding college course - for the English, math, reading and science tests.

Grasmick said education officials have generally been concerned about college readiness, wanting to ensure students are prepared to go on to higher education. She is chairing a statewide task force focused on the issue with Maryland Secretary of Higher Education James E. Lyons Sr., she said. The group, which is expected to put out a report in December, is analyzing all available information, looking at what should be done in high school and how schools can work "more in tandem with higher education," she added.

Among the state's most recent graduating class, 11,317 students took the ACT. The number of test takers has climbed steadily over the past few years, a trend that appears to be due in part to the length of another competing exam, the SAT, Grasmick said.

"There's a pattern of many students taking the SAT the first time but then not retaking it, and taking the ACT," Grasmick said. Students are also simply more aware of the test as an option, she added.

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