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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana still ranks below the national average — and near the bottom among all states — in average composite scores for students taking the ACT college readiness test.
However, state officials note that the state did move up in the latest national ACT data. And the state education department said the state's improvement from 19.2 to a 19.4 composite score is the most progress made by any of the 13 states that require all students to take the test.
Alabama, Mississippi and North Carolina, which had 100 percent participation in ACT testing, and Hawaii, which had 93 percent participation, had lower scores than Louisiana in the figures released early Wednesday.
Louisiana had previously been second from the bottom.
Louisiana began requiring all students to take the ACT in 2013, regardless of whether they planned to enter college. Many states with higher average composite scores had lower participation.
State officials said the ACT provides students with an opportunity to measure educational progress, while helping the state measure schools' effectiveness.
"While we're often talked about as being at the bottom of the barrel in terms of our education outcomes, the progress that we are seeing is vaulting us in front of other states," state Superintendent of Education John White told reporters Tuesday in advance of Wednesday's release of the national data.
In July, the state released data showing that the number of public high school seniors who scored well enough on the ACT to enter college without remedial work continues to grow: 24,619 students earned an ACT score of 18 or higher. That's a boost of 959 students from 2014 and of 6,312 students from 2012, according to data released by the department.
White said Tuesday that the state made good progress in moving toward college-readiness benchmarks in English and Science.
"Our numbers for mathematics have remained low, especially for African-American students when compared nationally," White said. "And this really argues for continuing to have high standards in math and continuing to have high levels of access to challenging college-track course work as early as possible for our students."