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Published August 21, 2013, 08:54 AM

North Dakota ACT scores slightly below national average

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Members of North Dakota's high school graduating class of 2013 who took the ACT college readiness assessment scored slightly lower than the national average.

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Members of North Dakota's high school graduating class of 2013 who took the ACT college readiness assessment scored slightly lower than the national average.

However, their scores generally meet admissions standards for the state's colleges and universities.

The test assesses students in reading, English, math and science reasoning. The report from the American College Testing company says the 7,102 North Dakota test-takers had an average composite score of 20.5 on a scale of 1 to 36 — slightly lower than the national average of 20.9.

Depending on a student's high school grade point average, an ACT score of 18 to 22 is required to be automatically accepted to the University of North Dakota, according to The Forum newspaper. At North Dakota State University, a score of 21 or higher is recommended for consideration, though a student with a lower ACT score might be admitted if his or her grades in core high school classes indicate college readiness.

"The ACT is simply one component of the evaluation," said Jobey Lichtblau, NDSU's director of admission. "It shouldn't be the only component. You look for other factors where a student can be successful."

Fargo Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Schatz said that district prefers to separate the scores of students who are involved in college preparatory coursework from those who take the mandatory test with no intention of applying to college.

The students who "are preparing for college are doing pretty well on the tests," he said.

Still, only about one-fourth of 2013 high school graduates in North Dakota met benchmarks in all four subjects of the test. ACT officials said that nationally, college and career readiness problems persist among high school graduates.

"Too many students are likely to struggle after they graduate from high school," Jon Whitmore, ACT chief executive officer, said in a statement Wednesday. "As a nation, we must set ambitious goals and take strong action to address this consistent problem. The competitiveness of our young people and of our nation as a whole in the global economy is at stake."

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