North Dakota high school graduates earned a 20.7 composite ACT score in 2012, slightly lower than the national average composite score of 21.1, according to a press release issued by the state department of public instruction. The North Dakota college readiness level in science equaled the national average while the readiness levels in English, mathematics, reading were slightly lower than the national average. This is logical when considering the very different testing populations involved. The national scores represent 52 percent of graduates nationwide. The North Dakota scores represent 100% of the state's graduates.
Nine states, including North Dakota, tested 100 percent of high school graduates. For the nine states, the composite score of 20.7 earned by North Dakota graduates is the second highest composite score, falling only behind Illinois with a composite score of 20.9. State Superintendent Wayne Sanstead said, "The results clearly reflect the abilities of all our North Dakota graduates, not just a select few college-bound students as in often the case in many other states."
Twenty-three percent of North Dakota 2012 high school graduates met or surpassed all four of ACT's College Readiness Benchmarks (English, mathematics, reading, and science). This figure is up 2 percent from the previous year and is but slightly lower than the 2012 national average of 25%.
There is a strong correlation between higher ACT average scores and student enrollment in more than the required ACT core curriculum courses. North Dakota students taking more than the required core curriculum courses earned an average composite score of 22.3, which is above the national average of 21.8.
Since the 2009-10 school year, each high school junior has had the choice of taking either the ACT exam for post-secondary preparedness or the WorkKeys assessments for career readiness. These assessments are administered statewide in the spring, allowing students the opportunity to select senior year courses that will further enhance success in college or the work place.
Sanstead concluded, "I believe the legislative requirement for students to select either the ACT or WorkKeys assessment is powerfully indicative of North Dakota's continuing commitment to college and career readiness and success for all students. We are committed to increasing and improving college readiness for our students and I know this will continue to be a priority for high school educators."