Iowa’s Governor and the Iowa Department of Education top administrator aren’t sugar-coating the latest college entrance exam results from ACT. The average score of 2004 Iowa high school graduates placed third in the country, behind students from Minnesota and Wisconsin. Judy Jeffrey, interim director of the Iowa Department of Education, says that third-place finish in states where a majority of high schoolers take the test should be a wake-up call for Iowa educators. Jeffrey says the ACT scores from students in surrounding states are improving, and it’s time to re-examine the kind of Iowa high school courses offered and being taken by students. Jeffrey says kids who take at least four years of English, three years of math and three years of science do markedly better on the ACT. Jeffrey says many higher-level courses should be required, not optional, for high schoolers. Jeffrey says only 32 percent of the Iowa students who took the ACT said their high school experience was satisfactory. “I don’t think that’s a high enough percentage,” Jeffrey says. Governor Tom Vilsack says the latest ACT results show the “state’s responsibility to strengthen education never ends.” Vilsack says “the rest of the country is catching up academically” with Iowa students and it’s time to make high school graduation standards tougher.
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