LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska’s 2015 high school graduates scored slightly lower on the ACT college entrance exam than their counterparts the year before, but they still beat the national average, according to a report released Wednesday.
The Nebraska Education Department said the state’s 2015 graduates’ average ACT composite score was 21.5, which fell just short of the 21.7 score from the year before but which beat the 2015 graduates’ national average of 21. The highest possible score is 36.
Statewide, around 88 percent of the graduating seniors took the test, compared with 86 percent last year.
“Historically, Nebraska has a high percentage of ACT test takers and our graduates have scored high, compared to the nation. As a state, we should applaud our successes but then recognize that we can do better,” said Matt Blomstedt, the state’s education commissioner.
States in which a high percentage of graduates take the ACT tend to have lower averages because their scores factor in more students who don’t plan to attend college and who aren’t on the college-course-taking track, officials said. Nationally, 59 percent of the 2015 graduates took the ACT.
Most Midwest colleges and many across the country accept or require the ACT for admission. Many colleges accept or require the SAT exam instead, especially on the coasts.
The Nebraska graduates scored higher than graduates in other states in each subject used to determine college and career readiness, the department said. Sixty-nine percent of the 2015 Nebraska test takers met the English goal, compared with 64 percent nationally; 49 percent of Nebraskans met the reading goal, compared with 46 percent nationally; 44 percent of the Nebraska graduates met the mathematics benchmark, compared with 42 percent nationally; and 42 percent of the Nebraska graduates tested ready in science, compared with 38 percent nationally.
The Nebraska English results dropped 3 percentage points year over year; reading increased 1 point, the mathematics benchmark dropped 1 point and the figure for science was unchanged.