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Gwinnett ACT scores dip, but still above average

LAWRENCEVILLE - Although Gwinnett County Public Schools' average composite ACT score dropped slightly this year, students in the state's largest school district continued to beat state and national averages.

Gwinnett's average composite score of 22.1 was higher than the state and national averages of 20.6 and 21.1, respectively.

More Gwinnett students took the ACT, a curriculum-based achievement exam designed to measure the academic skills taught in schools and deemed important for success in first-year college courses. A district report shows 3,179 students - 35 percent of the population - took the test, the district's highest percentage ever.

"Significant in that increase is that scores for Gwinnett's black, white and Asian students improved and our Hispanic test-takers' average held constant," Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said. "This year's ACT results provide additional evidence that Gwinnett County Public Schools is on the right track in terms of preparing all of our students to complete college-level work. Our focus on increasing course rigor and demonstrating high expectations for all students is making and will continue to make a difference."

Gwinnett students scored highest on the ACT's math subtest; the average score was 22.6, on the test's scale of 1 to 36. Average scores for English, reading and science reasoning subtests were 21.4, 22 and 21.7, respectively.

School-level scores, as well as those for the Buford and Barrow school districts, will be released by the Georgia Department of Education today.

Nationally, more students earned scores indicating they're prepared to succeed in college in all four areas tested by the ACT: English, math, reading and science. However, the increases were slight, and more than three-quarters of graduates still fail to meet that benchmark, suggesting those who went on to college need remedial work in at least one subject.

The ACT figures also highlight a still-massive gap between the preparation U.S. students receive in high school and what's expected of them in college. That's especially true in science, where just 28 percent of 2009 graduates earned ACT scores showing they're ready for college-level biology.

By comparison, 42 percent nationally are prepared for college-level algebra and 67 percent for English composition. Still, on the English test, 40 percent struggled or failed with some basic skills: using the correct adverb or adjective forms, using correct prepositions, and subject-verb agreement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

SideBar: ACT Scores

The following chart shows Gwinnett's average composite ACT scores by ethnicity:

Race/Ethnicity/No. of students tested/

Average composite score

American Indian/Alaskan Native/12/21.6

Asian,Pacific Islander/398/23.8

Black/831/18.9

Hispanic/188/20.7

White/1,487/23.7

Other/No response/263/21.2

All students/3,179/22.1

Source: Gwinnett County Public Schools