Missouri high school student scores on the ACT test are fourth highest in the country when the state's composite score is compared to other states that test at least 75 percent of their students. Earlier this year, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) reported that Missouri ranked 26th nationally; however, DESE failed to take into consideration that most of the states that were ranked above Missouri test a very small percentage of their students.

Ed Colby with the ACT Public Relations Department said, "The varying percentages of students who take the ACT in each state make direct comparisons difficult. You should probably compare Missouri's results only to states which have a similar percentage of students tested, and even then, the comparison should be viewed with caution. Only when we have 100 percent (or very close to it) of students tested can we really draw conclusions about the achievement levels of the overall student population with some confidence. Otherwise, the scores are representative only of college-bound (or college-hopeful) students who elected to take the ACT."

"We feel that it is important to set the record straight," said Roger Kurtz, Executive Director of the Missouri Association of School Administrators. "Missouri public schools are doing a fantastic job of educating our students and they should be congratulated for this achievement."

Nine states give the ACT test to 100 percent of their students. The number of Missouri students taking the ACT test in 2012 was 75 percent. Of the 18 states testing at least 75 percent of their students, Missouri ranked fourth with a composite score of 21.6. Missouri was number two in English with a score of 21.4; fourth in math with a score of 21.1; fourth in reading with a score of 21.9; and fourth in science with a score of 21.5. The state ACT scores may be viewed at this website: http://www.act.org/newsroom/data/2012/states.html. As noted above, the table should be sorted by the percent of graduates tested.

"Missouri taxpayers should be pleased with these results," Kurtz said. "Missouri educators have been working diligently over the last decade to improve curriculums, to raise standards and to improve teaching techniques. Their hard work and dedication is evident in these test results. The fact that Missouri high school students are doing so well on these national tests should be noted by businesses that are considering locating in Missouri.

"DESE has set a goal of Missouri being in the top 10 by 2020. In regard to our ACT scores, it appears that Missouri is already in the top five in the county in 2012," Kurtz said.