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N.M. class of 2013 slightly more ‘college ready’

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ACT scores up over those in 2012

New Mexico’s high school class of 2013 is slightly more “college ready” than their predecessors in the class of 2012, according to a new report from the ACT testing service.

The ACT bases its college readiness estimates largely on whether students meet score benchmarks on the four subject tests that make up the ACT. According to the report, students who reach those score targets are likely to pass their freshman courses with a “C” grade or better. The benchmarks are 18 for English, 22 for reading and math and 23 for science.

In New Mexico, 19 percent of students who took the ACT met the benchmarks in all four areas, up from 17 percent last year. Students were most successful in English, with 56 percent meeting that benchmark, and they struggled most in science, with just 29 percent hitting the target score.

However, the science percentage saw the most improvement over last year, when 22 percent hit the benchmark. Students slipped on the reading portion of the test, from 45 percent hitting the target in 2012 to 38 percent this year. The other subjects were relatively flat.

Overall, 70 percent of New Mexico graduates take the ACT, and their average composite score is 19.9. That’s one point below the national average score of 20.9.

The racial and ethnic breakdown of ACT-takers remained relatively unchanged over last year, at 51 percent Hispanic, 28 percent Anglo and 9 percent American Indian. That breakdown has changed significantly over the past five years, with the percentage of Hispanic test-takers increasing from 36 percent in 2009 to 51 percent in 2013.

But even though Hispanic students now take the test in greater numbers than their Anglo counterparts, there is still a yawning gap between the scores of Anglo and Hispanic students. While 50 percent of Anglo students met three or more of the college readiness benchmarks, 22 percent of Hispanic students reached three or more of the targets. That gap has remained unchanged since at least 2009.

Albuquerque Public Schools will place more emphasis on the ACT this school year, in that the district will begin administering the Plan test to sophomores rather than the pre-SAT. The Plan is a pre-ACT test aimed at sophomores.

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