The number of students scoring 18 or higher on the ACT college admission test has increased in Louisiana, which means that now thousands of additional students in the state will qualify to enroll in two- and four-year colleges.
The Louisiana Department of Education has announced that these students will not be required to attend remediation and that many more students will be eligible for funding through the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS). A record-breaking 25,144 seniors graduating in the class of 2016 had a college-enrollment level score (18+).
This number was an increase from the 24,682 who did the same in 2015. It was an increase of 6,837 students since 2012.
"This continued progress on the ACT is further evidence that Louisiana's students are as smart and as capable as any in this country," said State Superintendent John White. "The results demonstrate once again that our state's plan to raise expectations is working. The results also shows, however, that we cannot stop here. We must continue to raise expectations, equipping every student with skills they need to succeed in education after high school."
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) created a policy that made taking the ACT free for all high school students. Other BESE initiatives have been in place since 2012, such as higher expectations by way of the Louisiana Student Standards.
The state Department has established an online review of curriculum to assure that materials are aligned with the Louisiana Student Standards to support districts in making instructional decisions. The state also added post-secondary incentives like Advanced Placement credits and career credentials.
Teachers are getting a boost in Louisiana, too, as a program named Believe and Prepare has enabled the state's most successful teachers to mentor and train future teachers and ready them for quality classroom instruction from their very first day on the job.
Danielle Dreilinger reports for NOLA Media Group that the ACT scores count for one-quarter of a high school's rating on the state report card. In 2013, the Department made it almost mandatory to take the ACT. The scores from the exam would create a tool to measure Louisiana students achievement beside a nationwide scale, and it would encourage students to apply to college.
The new higher average ACT score is only enough to gain entrance the state's community college system, though it could also qualify a pupil for a four-year TOPS scholarship. Nationally, the average score for test-takers in 2015 was 21. A perfect score on the ACT is 36.
Another outstanding result touted by White is that roughly 5,200 more economically disadvantaged students and a minimum of 2,300 more African-American pupils earned scores of 18 or above in 2016, according to Miranda Klein, writing for The Town Talk.
Additionally, the average Louisiana African-American students' average score rose to 17.4, which is higher than the national average of 17 for the African-American high school population.
"I also want to call our attention to grim realities," White said, namely the number of graduates taking remedial courses in college and the only 40 percent of Louisiana students graduating college.
The American Press writes that the Louisiana class of 2016 had an average composite score of 19.5.