Kentucky's public high school seniors scored higher on the ACT college entrance exam than a year ago, but their performance remained below the national average, education officials said Wednesday. The average composite ACT score rose to 19.5 for Kentucky's public high school Class of 2012, up from 19.2 in 2011, according to data released by the state Department of Education.
The national average composite score was 21.1, which includes public and non-public-school test-takers.
This year's senior class in Kentucky showed across-the-board improvement with higher average scores in English, math, reading and science, the data showed. But those scores still trailed the national average in all four subjects.
When adding non-public-school test-takers to the equation, Kentucky's average 2012 composite score among graduating seniors was 19.8, according to ACT Inc., the Iowa City, Iowa-based not-for-profit that administers the exam nationwide.
This year's junior class in Kentucky also made slight gains in ACT scores, the data showed.
Kentucky uses only public school scores in compiling its ACT data, said Lisa Gross, spokeswoman for the Department of Education.
The ACT, which scores on a scale of 1 to 36, is commonly used in the college admissions process.
Meanwhile, 56 percent of this year's Kentucky public school graduating seniors taking the ACT met the benchmark score of 18 indicating they are college-ready in English. The benchmark is set by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.
Another 46.5 percent of the seniors reached the benchmark score of 20 in reading and 42 percent attained the benchmark of 19 in math. The postsecondary education council says students meeting those benchmarks don't have to take remedial college courses in those subjects.
A total of 41,851 public school seniors in Kentucky took the ACT, down slightly from 42,196 in 2011.
Both male and female average composite scores rose in 2012 among public school graduating seniors in Kentucky. The composite average female score was 19.6, up from 19.4 in 2011. Males scored an average composite of 19.3, up from 19.1 in 2011.
This year's average composite scores rose among white, black and Hispanic seniors, the data showed. The average composite score among black public school seniors was 16.6, compared to 19.9 among white students and 18.0 among Hispanic seniors.