Florida teens still behind national average on ACT scores

Aug 13, 2008

Luis Zaragoza

Orlando Sentinel


Florida's latest crop of high-school graduates continued a five-year trend by scoring below national averages in all sections of the ACT college-admissions test, results released today show. National averages remained about the same as last year's, ACT officials said.

For scores to improve, schools need to ramp up basic math and reading, said Cynthia B. Schmeiser, president of ACT Inc.'s education division.

"Too many students are graduating high school without the skills needed to succeed in college," she said.


What's being done to improve scores?

Florida's public schools already are pushing high-school students to take more challenging courses, school officials say. And beginning in the 2009-10 school year, availability of harder classes will be a factor when schools are graded, said Tom Butler, a state Department of Education spokesman.

The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36. The national average for Class of 2008 members is 21.1, while Florida's is 19.8, down from 20.5 in 2004.

Florida students rank near the bottom nationally on the SAT, the other big admissions test.


Why do students take the ACT and SAT?

Colleges use test scores to help decide who to admit. Some scholarship programs, including Florida's Bright Futures, require scores on applications. Most colleges accept either score.


How do the two tests differ?

The SAT focuses on reading, math and has a writing section. The ACT includes science and grammar and has an optional writing section. The SAT is more popular on the coasts, while the ACT tends to dominate in the Midwest. School officials say they hear that more students are taking both tests and use the best score on college applications.


How many students take them?

About 1.42 million members of the Class of 2008 took the ACT nationwide, about 93,000 of them in Florida. In 2007, 1.5 million people took the SAT, about 97,000 in Florida.




Special Message from Dan Gelber's "Little Brother"- Travis Thomas



Web Video: Bio Piece on Dan Gelber



Sen. Gelber debates against two amendments to HB 1143 that took aim at a woman's right to privacy



Final Video Message from Tallahassee: 2010 Legislative Session was guided by ideological frolics and a politically driven agenda


View All Videos..


Political advertisement paid for and approved by Dan Gelber.