BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana Department of Education announced that a record number of high school seniors earned an 18 or higher on the ACT.
According to the department the 25,144 seniors who achieved this score would be eligible to attend two and four-year colleges without additional remedial classes. In addition, the state has also seen record highs in the number of students eligible to receive TOPS funding.
"This continued progress on the ACT is further evidence that Louisiana's students are as smart and as capable as any in this country," said State Superintendent John White.
The report released by the Department of Education claims the state's average composite score for public schools increased from 19.4 in 2015 to 19.5 in 2016. However, this .1 increase still leaves the state below the national average composite score of 20 reported by the ACT.
In 2012, Louisiana became the 10th state to expand ACT access when the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education introduced a policy which allowed students to sit the exam free of charge. Since 2013 (the first year all students took the test), the statewide composite has increased .4 points. In addition, there has been a significant increase in TOPS grants with at least 7,885 earning the minimum requirement of a 17 or higher since 2012.
"The results demonstrate once again that our state's plan to raise expectations is working," said Superintendent White. "The results also show, however, that we cannot stop here. While more students than ever before are qualifying for universities and community colleges, too many are entering college only to withdraw later. We must continue to raise expectations, equipping every student with skills they need to succeed in education after high school."
In addition to increasing ACT access, the Department of Education and The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) have instituted several initiatives to expand educational opportunities for high school students. These initiatives include adopting higher BESE standards for course materials, increased support for TOPS and TOPS tech recipients, transitional 9th grade programs, and dedicated funding streams for career courses, dual enrollment, and other similar courses.
In 2015, Louisiana reported all-time high graduation rates with 77.5 percent of students receiving high school diplomas.