Although they still lagged behind the national average, Oklahoma's graduating high school seniors performed better on the ACT than students in previous years, according to a report released Wednesday.
But more than a quarter of the Oklahoma graduating seniors who took the test were unprepared for college-level work in any subject the test covers, the report states.
Of the nearly 30,000 Oklahoma students who took the test, 23 percent met college-ready benchmarks in all four subjects the test covers — English, reading, math and science. That figure was up from 20 percent in 2011 and 2012, according to the testing company's “The Reality of College Readiness 2013” report.
The report's benchmarks indicate whether the student is ready to handle college-level coursework in the subject.
According to the report, a student who meets a benchmark in a particular area has a 50 percent chance of earning a B or higher and a 75 percent chance of earning a C or higher in a corresponding freshman-level course.
The largest share of Oklahoma students — 29 percent — met none of the benchmarks on the test, indicating those students are unprepared for college courses.
Although they showed improvement, Oklahoma students still fell behind the national average, according to the report. Nationwide, 25 percent of 2013 graduating high school seniors met all four benchmarks.
Oklahoma students beat the national average on the English and reading portions of the test, but fell behind in math and science.
More Oklahoma students are taking the test, according to the report. From 2009-13, the number of graduates who had taken the test at least once climbed by 7.1 percent.
In a statement, Oklahoma higher education Chancellor Glen Johnson said this year's results were encouraging.
“These findings show that more students are graduating with the skills needed to be successful in college and life after high school,” Johnson said.
“It is important that we continue challenging students and preparing them for a college education.”
Kelly Davis, a senior at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, said she thought she was prepared for college when she arrived on campus as a freshman.
Davis, 21, graduated from Marlow High School. But she thinks her education at Red River Technology Center, a CareerTech center in Duncan, left her better prepared for college than she would have been had she only taken high school courses.
The center's courses tended to be more rigorous than those at her high school, she said, and she also had the opportunity to take Advanced Placement courses through the center. That level of work left her better prepared than many of her classmates, she said.