News Release
Contacts: Robert T. Tad Perry, Executive Director
Tracy Mercer, Information Research Analyst
T: 605.773.3455
F: 605.773.5320


Embargoed for Release Saturday, August 10, 2002


South Dakota Public University Students Gain More in
College Than Those Nationally

SPEARFISH- The South Dakota Board of Regents heard today that students at South Dakota's public universities continue to gain academically more in their first two years of college than students in a national reference group.  The information was part of a report on the gains in achievement measured by the proficiency exam. Instituted by the Regents in Spring 1998, the exam is a requirement for all second-semester sophomores.

"Over the past three years our students have made higher gains than the national reference group. I think the results of the proficiency exam say a lot for the instruction at South Dakota public universities," said Regents President Harvey C. Jewett.

In order to measure gains in achievement a student must possess an ACT or COMPASS score and a CAAP (College Assessment of Academic Performance) score. Most freshmen entering a South Dakota public university present an ACT score.  Students who do not have a valid ACT score may use their COMPASS exam score.  The COMPASS exam is an alternative computerized placement exam used for admission to the university when students do not have a valid ACT score.  The COMPASS exam is also produced by American College Testing (ACT). This is the first year that COMPASS scores were included in the Gains Report. 

The CAAP exam is comprised of four subject areas: writing, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. The focus in scoring is on the change in score level from the time of the ACT testing to that of the proficiency exam.  By using the student's ACT or COMPASS score a level of expected gain is determined.  In all four subject areas South Dakota public university students demonstrated a higher percentage of gains in achievement than did students in the national reference group.

The reference group against which South Dakota students' performance is compared consists of a pool of students who have taken the ACT or COMPASS exam and the CAAP exam.  They attend either a public or private 4-year college.  When comparing performances between students with a specific ACT score within an institution and the reference group of students with the same score, ACT weighs the reference group performance to reflect the same distribution of ACT scores as the institution.  This ensures that the level of expected gain is similar between the two reference groups.  

Comparison of Percentage of Student Gains in Achievement
SD Public Higher Education vs. Reference Group, 2001-02

(Gains: Expected + Higher than Expected Progress)

"The proficiency exam is a quality assurance tool for the Board of Regents. Exam results have consistently shown students at South Dakota's public universities are receiving a quality education.  Our students are gaining more knowledge at South Dakota schools than students nationally," said Regents Executive Director Robert T. Tad Perry.

For more information, contact: Dr. Robert T. Tad Perry, Executive Director or Dr. Lesta Turchen, Senior Administrator, South Dakota Board of Regents, (605) 773-3455.


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