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N.D. Composite ACT Scores Rank Above Average

The average North Dakota composite ACT score in 2009 was 21.5 out of a possible 36.

Of the North Dakota high school graduates who took the American College Testing (ACT) examination, the average composite ACT score in 2009 was 21.5 out of a possible 36. This score is relatively unchanged from 21.6 in 2008.

Nationally, the composite score for ACT-tested 2009 graduates was 21.1, which is unchanged from 2008.

This month’s “Population Bulletin,” a monthly publication from the North Dakota State Data Center at North Dakota State University, focuses on ACT scores released by ACT Inc., which are designed to predict a student’s potential for success in college.

According to ACT, 78 percent of 2009 North Dakota graduating seniors took the ACT assessment during their sophomore, junior or senior year. If a student was tested more than once, only the most recent test record was used. Nationally, 45 percent were tested.

The ACT program has developed benchmarks to measure what it takes to be successful in standard first-year college courses in the areas of English, math, reading and science. A benchmark score is the minimum score needed on an ACT subject area to indicate a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher grade or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or higher in the corresponding credit-bearing college courses, which include English composition, algebra, social science and biology.

According to these benchmarks, 70 percent of ACT-tested 2009 North Dakota high school graduates were ready for college English, 47 percent for math, 57 percent for reading and 31 percent for college science.

The proportion of North Dakota students who met all four benchmarks was 24 percent. This proportion has remained relatively unchanged during the past several years.

“These data highlight the challenges of education in a global competitive market where well-rounded education is critical,” said Richard Rathge, State Data Center director.

North Dakota students who added an additional course of advanced math (such as trigonometry or calculus) to their core requirement of algebra I, algebra II and geometry increased their likelihood of college-readiness in math from 25 to 65 percent.

Similarly, in the sciences, North Dakota students who added physics to their core of general sciences, biology and chemistry increased their likelihood of college-readiness in science from 28 to 49 percent.

Analysis of North Dakota ACT scores reveals a disparity in college readiness by gender, race and county. Of the ACT-tested 2009 North Dakota male high school graduates, 27 percent met all four subject-area benchmarks, compared with 21 percent of female students.

An even greater disparity exists among racial groups. One-fourth of white students met all four benchmarks, compared with 30 percent Asian, 11 percent black, 11 percent Hispanic and 4 percent American Indian.

In terms of geography, 12 counties had at least one in four ACT-tested graduates meeting all four benchmarks. Ten counties had less than one in 10.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Richard Rathge, (701) 231-8621,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
ACT Scores by County Preview
(0601 Population Bulletin.pdf - 279.17 Kb)
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