Iowa students who took the ACT this year had the second-highest average score in the nation among states where the ACT is taken by a majority of graduating seniors. Minnesota’s students had a higher average score than Iowa’s.

The ACT is a multiple-choice test which covers the subjects of English, math, reading and science.  “If you look at the results in the college readiness that the ACT shows, it does show that we need to have more students better prepared to go on to the workforce and to post-secondary opportunities,” says Kevin Fangman, acting director of the Iowa Department of Education.

The average ACT composite score for Iowa students this year was 22.2, compared to the national average score of 21.  “English language arts is the highest area where students achieved and science was the area where it was the lowest,” Fangman says. “And that trend holds true nationally as well.”

Student surveys indicate nearly 18,000 of the Iowans who took the ACT had taken four years of English and at least three years of math, science and social studies in high school. That means 78 percent of the students who took the test this past spring fulfilled the requirements of the state’s new “model core curriculum” that is in effect for this next school year.

“It was designed with the thought that they’ll be college- and career-ready when they finish their school experience,” Fangman says, “so I would anticipate that our (ACT) scores will go up.”

Sixty percent of the students who graduated from an Iowa high school this year took the ACT. The students who took the “core courses” of English, math and science throughout high school had an average composite ACT score of 23.  Those who took “lighter” course loads had a much lower average score of 19.6.