For Immediate Release
August 13, 2008

Class of 2008 shows gains in every subject area on the ACT college entrance exam


Students improve composite scores in English, mathematics, reading and science from 2007 to 2008; 5-year trend shows continued improvements

Springfield — The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today announced the class of 2008 has made increases in all subject areas tested on the ACT from 2007 to 2008. In addition to the yearly improvements in English, mathematics, reading and science a five-year trend shows steady improvements in composite scores. The number of Illinois graduates taking the ACT has increased by more than 11,000 students since 2004 to more than 143,000 in 2008.

“With more students taking the ACT each year, these increases speak highly of the progress our students and state are making,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “When you look at scores over the past five years, Illinois is up almost half a point. This success can apply not only to students who are college bound, but also those who will begin a career directly after high school.” 

Illinois students made gains in each of the four required subject areas from 2007 to 2008:

  Subject         2007           2008

Composite scores for the past five years have increased almost half a point:

Five-Year-Trend Composite Scores



       2004                     2008 

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In 2008, 143,734 Illinois students took the ACT, an increase of more than 3,000 in 2007. Although ACT is designed for students who plan to attend college, Illinois is one of only a few states to test all its 11th grade students. Today’s results represent the latest scores achieved by all Illinois 2008 graduates in both public and private schools. 

The ACT is a curriculum-based measure of college readiness. The ACT components include tests of academic achievement on four separate subject areas - English, mathematics, reading and science - plus an optional writing test. The exam is reported on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score.

Since Illinois started administering the ACT to all public school 11th grade students in 2001, the state has seen significant improvement in the percentage of graduates who meet ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks. A benchmark score is the minimum score needed on an ACT subject area to indicate a chance of obtaining a C or higher in a corresponding college-level course.

ACT’s College Readiness System provides aligned, achievement-based assessment at three key transition points for students: EXPLORE for 8th and 9th graders, PLAN for 10th graders and ACT for 11th and 12th graders. 2008 was the first year Illinois administered each of these assessments to its students, with Explore and Plan administered on a voluntary basis.