Virginia students who took the ACT test in the 2011 high school graduating class did slightly better on average than their counterparts in Maryland, and a lot better than those in the District, according to scores released Wednesday.

Nationally, scores on the tests, which are used for college admissions, show that only 1 in 4 graduates of the class of 2011 who took the exam met four key benchmarks that supposedly show readiness for success in the first year of college. You can read about that here.

The national average composite score for 2011 was 21.1 out of a possible 36. Here’s how students in the greater Washington did, according to the scores:

Virginia students had an average composite score of 22.3; Maryland’s students had an average score of 22.1, and the District’s, 20. The state with the highest average composite score was Massachusetts, at 24.2 (see below for more on other states).

Here are further breakdowns of the average scores on the four subject areas that are part of the ACT: English, math, reading and science. The national average composite scores for the subject tests: English 20.6; math 21.1; reading 21.3; science 20.9

You can compare that with the state results below. (Note that the percent of graduates who took the ACT in each state was based, according to the ACT, on projections of graduating seniors from 2008.)

Virginia: 24 percent of graduates took the ACT

The average composite scores were:

English: 22.1

math: 22.2

reading: 22.7

science 21.8

Maryland: 20 percent of graduates took the ACT

The average composite scores were:

English 21.8

math 22.2

reading 22.2

science 21.6

Washington D.C.: 28 percent of graduates took the ACT

The average composite scores were:

English 19.7

math 20.2

reading 20.4

science 19.4

Here are the ACT benchmarks (out of a possible score of 36 in each subject): for English, a score of at least 18, for reading a score of at least 21, for math a score of at least 22, and for science a score of at least 24.

This year 1.62 million, or 49 percent of the entire U.S. graduating class, took the ACT, up 25 percent from four years ago. The number of ACT takers has not reached SAT levels in the greater Washington area but is growing; in 2009, 20 percent of Virginia’s graduating class took the ACT and this year it was 24 percent. Two years ago 17 percent of Maryland students took the ACT and this year it was 20 percent. But in the District, the percentage has gone down, from 30 percent in 2009 to 28 percent in 2011.

The states with the highest average composite scores for 2011 are:

1) Massachusetts 24.2

2) Connecticut 23.9

3) New Hampshire 23.7

4) New York 23.4

5) Maine 23.3

6) New Jersey 23.2

and the lowest average composite scores:

1) Mississippi 18.7

2) Tennessee 19.5

3) Florida and Kentucky 19.6

4) Arizona 19.7

5) New Mexico 19.8

6) Arkansas 19.9

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