News Release
Contacts: Robert T. Tad Perry, Executive Director
Janelle Toman, Director of Information
T: 605.773.3455
F: 605.773.5320


For Immediate Release: Wednesday, August 21, 2002

 ACT Data Show Importance of Planning, Preparing for College

PIERRE – Assessment data released today by ACT reinforce the importance of a college-prep curriculum for college-bound students, and those numbers show South Dakota students would benefit from making better choices about the coursework they take, the executive director of the South Dakota Board of Regents said.

“The ACT scores confirm what we’ve known for some time—the importance of rigorous, college-prep courses in preparing students for college work,” said Robert T. Tad Perry.

Perry said he is pleased to see South Dakota students continue to perform well—South Dakota’s average ACT score of 21.4 compares favorably to the national average of 20.8—but other trends reported by ACT are troublesome.

“When 36 percent of South Dakota students taking the ACT test acknowledge they have not taken courses to better prepare themselves for college, it tells me that we all have more work to do,” Perry said. Students must be encouraged to plan ahead and to make better choices in high school, by focusing on courses that will ensure a productive college experience. Parents and schools need to support those choices, he said. Finally, higher education needs to do more to communicate its expectations of college-bound students.

With legislative approval granted earlier this year to obtain student mailing lists, the Board of Regents plans an ongoing effort starting this fall to help as many South Dakota students as possible prepare for college. The initiative will focus on students in grades 7-12 and their families. The Regents will provide information to help students prepare academically, financially, and socially for their college years.

With more students taking the ACT test and considering college as an option, Perry worries that some students are not as prepared as they could be. “The percentage of South Dakota students who described their high school curriculum as college preparatory declined from 49 percent to 46 percent over the past year,” Perry said, “and the percentage of our high school students who met ACT’s core course requirements decreased for the second year in a row. These are areas on which to focus our efforts.”

ACT defines the core college-preparatory curriculum as four or more years of English and three or more years each of math (algebra and above), social sciences, and natural sciences. The data show a positive relationship between the number of English and math courses students take and their ACT English and math scores. The average South Dakota student who completed the recommended core curriculum in high school scored a 22.4 on the ACT, compared to the statewide average for all test takers of 21.4.


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