Missouri’s ACT scores for the class of 2010 are in, and the scores didn’t really change much from last year. But apparently that’s good news.

“Anytime you’re reaching outside what your normal or previous tested population, you’re adding variance to whether the students, how they’re going to perform,” said Michael Muenks, Assistant Commissioner of the Office of College and Career Readiness at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Missouri had more high school students than ever take the ACT last year. The 48,290 high school graduates taking the test are enough to represent 69% of the senior class statewide. The average score was 21.6, the same it’s been in Missouri for 6 years.

“Considering the number of students we went up by, we felt good to have maintained our mean score. We’d like to get off of our mean score; we’ve been there a long time. But our testing population continues to grow,” Muenks said.

Muenks says the fact that not every student takes the test makes it slightly more difficult to identify deficiencies in the data put out by the ACT. However, it is possible to see reinforcement in particular areas to what DESE sees in statistics from the MAP tests and graduation rates.

The ACT showed only 26% percent of Missouri students met a benchmark for “college readiness” on all tested subjects. That’s slightly better than the 24% average nationwide, but still not good enough, Muenks says.

“The full load of rigorous coursework is what prepares a student to be career ready and college ready. Students can’t afford in today’s economy and in today’s workplace not to take rigorous coursework,” Muenks said.

He says he expects to see improvements in that figure in the years to come, as the Class of 2010 was the first to graduate with the new credit requirements established in 2006.

Muenks says the numbers also showed a distinct achievement gap based on race. For example, only 4% of African American students taking the test met the benchmark for college readiness on all subjects.

“It’s a really thorny issue and we really probably need more attention in the state of Missouri on our achievement gaps. We have some achievement gaps (in) the state level assessment data and it mimics that state level data in tests like the ACT,” Muenks said.

Muenks says a major factor in this issue is the expectations for minority students in their communities, families, and schools.

Follow this link to see the data from Missouri’s test results.

AUDIO: Ryan Famuliner reports [1 min MP3]