Published: Aug 18, 2010 6:32 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 18, 2010 3:29 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla -  More high school seniors are meeting the testing standard that shows they're prepared for college -- even though overall scores on the latest ACT college entrance exams declined slightly.

The average score dropped to 21.0 from 21.1 on a scale of 1 to 36. But 24 percent of students met or surpassed the benchmarks measuring college preparedness.

The test shows three in four test-takers will likely need remedial help in at least one subject to succeed in college.

In Lee County, more students are participating in ACT testing and scores have improved over the previous year.

Approximately 300 more seniors participated in ACT testing than did the previous year (2,706 students in 2009/10 vs. 2,385 in 2008/09), an increase of 13.5 percent as compared to the statewide increase of less than eight percent.

“We continue to work to provide students with various educational opportunities, and I am glad to see ACT participation increasing,” said Dr. James Browder, Superintendent of Schools. “We’ll continue to work hard so this trend continues over the years to come.”

The local composite (or average) score improved from 18.6 to 19.0.  The state’s overall average remained unchanged, while the national average dipped by a tenth of a percent.

This past school year the District implemented a plan to register all seniors for ACT testing who had not successfully completed the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT.)  State graduation requirements allow students to use passing ACT scores (15 or higher) to graduate in place of FCAT scores. This initiative enabled approximately 275 students to take the ACT and graduate who otherwise would not have qualified.

The ACT is a voluntary assessment that measures student abilities in the academic areas traditionally identified with college preparatory high school programs: English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. ACT scores are reported on a scale ranging from 1 to 36. Students planning on attending college must take either the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) or the American College Test (ACT) for entrance into most state and national colleges.