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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah students held steady in their ACT scores this year, even as the national average slipped, the Utah State Board of Education announced Wednesday.
More than 39,800 graduating seniors in Utah took the test this year, earning an average composite score of 20.2 — virtually unchanged from last year.
Nationwide, average scores dropped from 21 to 20.8. The exam is graded on a 36-point scale.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson congratulated students and teachers for maintaining their ACT scores, even as grades went down nationally.
But Dickson also acknowledged that education leaders have "much room for improvement in getting all students prepared for their futures."
Utah offers the ACT to all students, she noted, whereas in most states only students with college aspirations take the test. Out of the 18 states that tested 100 percent of their graduates, Utah tied for eighth.
Utah students improved their English scores slightly from 19.3 to 19.4; dropped slightly on their math scores from 19.7 to 19.6; and made no changes to their reading and science scores at 20.8 and 20.3, respectively.
American Indian, black, Hispanic and Pacific Islander students in Utah fared worse than the state average. Asian and white students fared better.
According to the ACT college readiness benchmark, just 23 percent of Utah students met the benchmarks for all four subjects, compared with 26 percent nationally.
Some other details of note: Over the past five years, the number of Hispanic and Latino students taking the ACT has increased from about 4,200 students in 2012 to 6,100 students in 2016 — a 45 percent jump.
Overall, the number of students taking the ACT in Utah increased by 26 percent since 2012.
The top three colleges that graduates sent their scores to are the University of Utah, Utah State University and Utah Valley University. Arizona State University is the out-of-state school that received the most scores from Utah students.