- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 9, 2017

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana’s public high school students performed slightly better on the ACT college readiness test in the most recent results, continuing a trend of improvement for the last four years, according to data released Wednesday.

The state education department said the average composite score for high school students during the last school year reached 19.6, edging up from 19.5 in 2016. The average has gradually increased from 19.1 since the 2012-13 school year.

Superintendent of Education John White called it “remarkable and consistent progress.”

“Four straight years of gains on the ACT proves beyond a doubt that when you raise expectations for all students, they can achieve great things,” White said.

The test measures how students perform in English, reading, math and science. A perfect score is 36.

Public school graduates in Louisiana have been required to take the ACT since 2013, and the scores are used to grade public schools and school districts in the state’s accountability system.

Students in St. Tammany Parish had the highest average score in the last school year at 22, while students in East Carroll Parish averaged a 15.2 score, the lowest in the state.

Louisiana’s education department said a record number of seniors who graduated in 2017 - more than 25,700 of them - earned a score of 18 or higher, what the department considered a “college-going” score generally allowing students admission to college without remedial courses.

The state’s basic TOPS award for a four-year college requires a minimum score of 20.

Despite the gains, Louisiana students remain below the 2016 national average of 20.8. A national average for 2017 has yet to be released.

Data by school district and by individual public school is available on the state education department’s website .

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