- Associated Press - Thursday, July 16, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The number of public high school seniors who scored well enough on the ACT standardized test to enter college without remedial work continues to grow, Louisiana’s education department said Thursday.

Of the latest group of graduating seniors, 24,619 students earned an ACT score of 18 or higher. That’s a boost of 959 students from 2014 and of 6,312 students from 2012, according to data released by the department.

The number of students who scored well enough to earn scholarships through the state’s TOPS free college tuition program also increased. Nearly 1,000 more students reached a score to be eligible for TOPS than in the previous year, according to the education department.

State Superintendent John White credited rising standards and accountability changes for the improvements.

“Raising expectations for all students is not easy, but our students are showing they are as smart and capable as any in America,” White said in a statement. “By providing access to more rigorous courses and tests for all students, we are seeing achievement increase across the board.”

Louisiana’s average ACT composite score is 19.4 on a 36-point scale, the department said.

National ACT results won’t be released until next month, but Louisiana has consistently fallen below the national average of states and is expected to do so again. The national average ACT composite score last year was 21.

For the TOPS program, 27,838 students earned the minimum 17 ACT score needed for a TOPS Tech award for community or technical college tuition, while 18,039 received the 20 Act score needed for a TOPS award to a regional university.

Louisiana began requiring all students to take the ACT in 2013, regardless of whether they planned to enter college. State officials said the ACT provides students with an opportunity to measure educational progress, while helping the state measure schools’ effectiveness.

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Online:

The education department has posted a breakdown of ACT scores for seniors by public school district at: http://bit.ly/1LnvQyF

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