# What About The Number of Students Taking the ACT in Oklahoma?

Within the last several days (8/20/10), I have read a number of articles resulting from an Oklahoma State Department of Education press release about the increase in Oklahoma public school students taking the ACT. CapitolBeatOK just released one that I thought was excellent at highlighting exactly the issues the OSDE wanted highlighted. Some of the comments inside the article made me wonder, so I did a little research of my own. Here are some facts that were not highlighted in the OSDE press release, and which I found most interesting.  Since 1993, OSDE has been running a program in conjunction with ACT called Educational Planning and Assessment EPAS which allows OK public school students to take various versions of the ACT beginning in 8th grade. I spoke with Dr. Cindy Brown, who coordinates the EPAS program at the OK State Regents for Higher Education, yesterday and found she had some very interesting statistics not available in the press release: o The Regents consider an ACT score of below 19 to be unacceptable o in 1994, 39% of all students who took the ACT scored below a 19 o in 2010, 36% of all students taking the ACT scored below a 19

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no mathematician, but I do have rudimentary knowledge of how statistics work. I understand that the number of students taking the ACT in 1994 was probably a much smaller pool than in 2010. However, no matter the size of the pool over the years, a rise of a mere 3% above the 19 cut off within a time frame of 16 years seems downright pitiful especially with a rising pool of test takers. Don’t forget, in 16 years, according to EPAS, there should have been nearly four cycles of seniors using the EPAS program since their entrance into 8th grade. That doesn’t seem problematic to anyone but me? Sandy Garret says, "Typically, an increase in test-takers results in a lower average score, but that isn't what is happening in Oklahoma." I am assuming that she is postulating that new test takers are probably not as prepared for the ACT as those who have taken it before (most students take the ACT at least twice). Therefore, newer test takers tend to score lower, swamping out higher test scores (usually a much lower percentage) and creating a lower actual percentage of higher scores. Okay, but should this be a valid argument if at least four cycles of students have been exposed to the ACT since 8 th grade?