Iowa’s Class of 2006 ranked third in the country on the ACT, a college entrance exam.

Graduating seniors in Iowa used to score at the top of the nation, but for the past few years students in Minnesota and Wisconsin have topped Iowa seniors who take the ACT. The average score of the graduating Iowa high school seniors who took the test this past year was 22.1. That’s slightly above the national average — and just about a point behind the students in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The director of the Iowa Department of Education issued a statement, saying she’s “pleased Iowa students continue to score well and rank very high in the nation.” Judy Jeffrey also noted that greater percentages of Iowa students also are scoring high enough in English, math and reading to indicate they’re ready for college.

Just over 22,000 Iowa students took the ACT, and 87 percent of them were white. Minority students in Iowa who took the test scored better than their minority peers in other states, but below white students in Iowa.

Education officials say it’s unfair to compare Iowa’s average composite scores with states where few students take the ACT. Twenty-five of the 50 states have fewer than 50 percent of graduating high school students take the ACT. The predominant college entrance exam in those states is the SAT.

The average composite score for Iowa’s Class of 2006 was 22.1. Last year’s graduating class scored a 22. A “perfect” score is 36.