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ACT scores slip

Arkansas’ high school class of 2012 showed some improvement in ACT college entrance exam scores, but the scores dropped slightly in the White Hall School District because more seniors took the exam this year, Superintendent Dr. Larry Smith said.

The average composite score in the district was 19.5, down from 20.4 last year. The average state score was 20.3 — on a scale of 1 to 36 — compared to the national average of 21.1. In 2011, the state’s average composite score was 19.9.

“The 19.5 is not bad,” Smith said. “A 19 on the ACT qualifies a graduate for a scholarship.”

The average composite score “matches reality,” Smith added, noting 209 students took the ACT exam this year, compared to 167 last year and 129 in 2008. The number that took the exam this year closely reflected May graduation numbers.

“We have encouraged more students to take the ACT and more are realizing that a 19 or above qualifies them for a scholarships,” Smith added. Eighty-eight percent of Arkansas’ class of 2012 took the ACT.

White Hall students topped the state average in three of the past five test years, according to the Arkansas Department of Education.

Statewide, seniors scored poorly on math and science and were below the national average overall. The four subject areas are English, reading, math and science, with White Hall students scoring an average of 19.1 to 19.5 in the four areas.

The district averages: 19.1 in English, 19.3 in math, 19.5 in reading and 19.4 in science.

In 2012, 26,058 Arkansas seniors took the ACT. More students in the state have been taking the college entrance test, with 15.6 percent more taking the test in 2012 than in 2008, while the number of graduates declined 2.6 percent.