Oklahoma's graduating class of 2011 scored close to the national average on the ACT college entrance exam, but student performance on the exam varies greatly by school, according to data released Monday by the Education Department.
Seniors at the Oklahoma School for Math and Science had the highest average ACT score in the state with a 31.4, while at the bottom of the list is a small alternative high school in Oklahoma City for at-risk students with an average score of 13.7.
The four-hour long multiple-choice exam is scored on a scale from 0-36.
It has become synonymous with college acceptance for Oklahoma seniors. A high score can mean entrance into the university of their choice and more scholarship money, while a low score can tip the admission's scale toward a rejection letter.
The average score among all Oklahoma high school seniors on the ACT is 20.7. That is close to the national average on the exam 21.1 but well below admissions standards for the state's two largest universities.
Who's on top
Top scores largely come from the suburbs of Tulsa and Oklahoma City, but a few inner-city specialty schools with admissions requirements are in the top 10 performers.
At the Oklahoma School for Science and Mathematics, students must take the ACT as an entrance exam for the school, said Suzanne Donnolo, the school's director of admissions and registrar. Sophomores from across the state can apply to attend the free public boarding school for their final two years of high school.
Donnolo said the average score for incoming juniors on the exam is a 26, and then the students are required to take the exam three more times before they graduate.
“Many of them take it a lot more than that,” Donnolo said.
Her students are motivated by the lucrative Academic Scholars Program, which offers substantial scholarships to students who score in the very top echelons on the ACT or SAT.
“They are required to read so much more here and do so much more between the reading and the math, that usually helps,” Donnolo said. “Some of our students who have taken it multiple times even tell us that they will see the same reading passage on a different test. If you know what to expect than that test anxiety goes down.”To find your school's average ACT score
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