Iowa high school students who took the ACT in 2008 secured the second-highest average score in the nation. Iowa Department of Education director Judy Jeffrey says that’s something about which Iowans can be proud. 

"An ACT is a good measure of the outcome of an entire educational system that produces high-quality students who achieve well on national measures," Jeffrey says.

The average ACT score for Iowa students rose slightly from 2007, by a tenth of a point this year. Iowa students who took the ACT had an average composite score of 22.4. Minnesota students were first in the nation, with an average ACT score two-tenths higher, at 22.6.

"We’re very pleased with how Iowa students have ranked on the ACT for this past school year," Jeffrey says. "You know, we’re second in the nation and again, it just indicates the quality of our educational system for our students."

The ACT is the college admission and placement exam that most Iowa high school seniors take. Sixty percent of the students in the class of 2008 in Iowa took the test. "It indicates, I think, the high college-going rate of our students in Iowa," Jeffrey says.

The ACT has a maximum score of 36. The national average score was 21.1. The data shows Iowa students who took at least three years of math, science and social studies — and four years of English — scored better on the test.

 "It’s very clear when you look at the increase in ACT scores, the students who take advanced courses tend to do much better on the ACT," Jeffrey says. "We passed additional graduation requirements in this state a few years ago. That, in addition to the core curriculum, will continue to encourage our students to take more rigorous and advanced courses in order to prepare themselves for (college)."

Nearly 23,000 Iowa high school students took the ACT this year.