ACT Participation Rises at MCPS; Scores Remain High

August 18, 2010
   The Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Class of 2010 took the ACT college entrance exam in record numbers, with participation more than doubling over five years and performance significantly outstripping state and national averages in every tested subject, according to ACT’s annual report released today.
   “We have more than doubled the number of students taking the ACT in the past five years, but our students’ performance has remained very high,” said Board of Education President Patricia O’Neill.
   More than 3,100 MCPS students took the 2010 ACT exam, comprising roughly 30 percent of the district’s graduates. Since 2006, ACT participation among MCPS seniors has jumped from 1,485 to 3,117—an increase of 110 percent. In that same time period, the average composite score has risen from 23.1 to 23.4
   “Even as ACT participation has increased dramatically, we have more students demonstrating that they are ready for college and the workplace,” said Jerry D. Weast, Superintendent of Schools. “Our teachers and staff are doing an exceptional job of educating our children and preparing them for success later in life.”
   MCPS’ composite score of 23.4 was well above average for the nation (21.0) and the state of Maryland (22.3). MCPS students also significantly outscored their state and national peers in each of the four subject areas: English, mathematics, reading and science. The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36.
   In English, 77 percent of MCPS’ graduates met or surpassed the ACT benchmark score for demonstrating college readiness, compared to 73 percent statewide and 66 percent nationwide. In math, 62 percent met or surpassed ACT’s benchmark score, compared to 53 percent statewide and 43 percent nationally. Forty-one (41) percent of MCPS’ graduates met or surpassed benchmark scores in all four tested subject areas, while 32 percent did statewide, and only 24 percent did nationally.
   African American seniors at MCPS scored an 18.4, which is up .2 from 2009. Hispanic MCPS seniors scored 20.2, up .3 from 2009. For both subgroups, the number of test-takers has tripled or more since 2006, but scores have held steady.
   The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement test designed to measure the skills and knowledge taught in high school  that are deemed essential for success in first-year college coursework. The number of MCPS students taking the ACT has steadily increased in recent years as more colleges and universities have begun to accept both ACT and SAT results as part of their admissions processes. In fact, in 2010, Montgomery County students accounted for roughly 75 percent of the growth in ACT participation by Maryland students.
   The majority of MCPS students still take the SAT. Results for the class of 2010 are expected next month, but preliminary data suggests that these graduates will score at an all-time high.
   MCPS provides a range of support to high school students as they prepare for college and careers. 
Free, online study guides and test prep for the ACT and the SAT are available on the MCPS website for all enrolled high school students. For parents and students trying to decide which college entrance exam is the best fit, please click here.
   The 2010 ACT results add to an already strong array of achievements by MCPS students, including:
   - In 2009, MCPS students took, and passed, Advanced Placement exams in record numbers.
   - MCPS has the highest graduation rate (83.1 percent) among the nation’s largest school districts, according to Education Week.
   - The class of 2010 earned more than $234 million in college scholarships, the most ever and an increase of nearly $50 million from 2009.
   - The district is one of five finalists for the $1 million Broad Prize for Urban Education, which recognizes large school districts that have raised student performance and narrowed the achievement gap. The winner will be announced in October.

ACT Press Release

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