A record number of Oklahoma high school students took the ACT this year, and officials with the state's higher education system think a state program may have contributed to the increase.
State officials released Oklahoma high schools' 2012 ACT scores August 29. Data showed 29,342 graduating high school seniors took the college entrance exam in 2012 — about 80 percent of the state's seniors.
That figure is the largest in state history. It represents an increase of 1,119 students over 2011, when 76 percent of graduating seniors took the exam.
During a Thursday meeting of the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education, Cindy Brown, the system's director for student preparation, told regents she suspects the Oklahoma Educational Planning and Assessment System, or EPAS, may have contributed to the increase.
The system provides students and parents with reports that show how the student is doing in specific areas, based on how he or she performed on tests. The reports allow students and parents to identify areas where the student needs to improve, so he or she can focus on those topics.
It also gives teachers similar reports that show how their classes perform on tests. If an entire class answers a certain type of question incorrectly, the teacher can adjust his or her instruction to help students understand the topic better.
The program is based on the ACT's Educational Planning and Assessment System, which is designed to prepare students for their goals after high school. The program includes a series of exams and reports, which culminates with the ACT.
Like the ACT model, Oklahoma's program consists of three tests — Explore and Plan, which are administered in eighth and 10th grade, respectively, followed by the ACT.
Overall, the state's ACT results were mixed. Schools across the state averaged anywhere from 14.7 to 31.7 on the exam's 36-point scale, according to state data.
Overall, students in Oklahoma scored an average of 20.7, which was below the national average of 21.1.