- Associated Press - Thursday, June 26, 2014

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Louisiana education officials are touting another increase in the number of high school students who scored well enough on the ACT exam to enter college without remedial work.

The Department of Education said Thursday that 23,560 students scored an 18 or higher in 2014. That was an increase of 1,472 over the 2013 total. And it was the second increase in as many years.

The number of students who scored well enough to earn various levels of scholarships through the state TOPS program also increased. The number earning the minimum 17 score needed for a TOPS “tech” award for community or technical school tuition jumped by more than 1,000 to 26,805. That’s an increase of more than 6,000 from two years ago.

Those scoring a 20, well enough to earn a TOPS Opportunity scholarship covering regional university tuition, jumped from 16,027 in 2013 to16,935 this year.

The number earning a 23 or better, for a TOPS Performance scholarship, dropped over the year from 8,834 to 8,433.

But there was an increase from 5,006 to 5,301 in the number scoring at least 25 for the TOPS Flagship University award; and the number scoring a 27 or better, earning a TOPS Honors award, grew from 2,938 to 3,116.

“These results demonstrate what can happen when we maintain high expectations and open the doors of opportunity to young men and women,” Education Superintendent John White said in a news release. “These scores represent real life opportunity for graduates. Whether graduates attend four-year universities, two-year colleges, or workforce preparation programs, no one can ever take away these college-going scores.”

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.

The average composite ACT score in Louisiana will be released later this year, the department said. And school districts will complete their analysis of ACT scores for inclusion in school performance scores under the state’s school accountability program.

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