Breaking down the numbers

The average ACT score at Truman is higher than the national average.

31, 25, 28, 32, 26. No, these arenâ??t lottery numbers. Theyâ??re actual ACT scores from actual Truman State University students. Pretty impressive, huh?

Students there arenâ??t shy about revealing their scores--and why should they be? The average ACT score at Truman is 27, well above the national average.

"Our students are more well-prepared than on most of the public universities across the state. So we do attract a different type of student,â?? says Gina Morin, Trumanâ??s Vice President for Enrollment Management. â??They take college-bound courses. They're creative. They're bright. It's a wonderful kind of student who's attracted to Truman."

Brenda Niemeyer is a guidance counselor at Kirksville High School and knows all about the ACT and what it takes to prepare a college hopeful for it.

"The ACT is a standardized test for high school achievement. It targets college readiness skills,â?? she explains. â??It's an assessment that colleges use to indicate benchmark achievement for the students that are considering admission into their university. A score of 36 is the highest a student can achieve, and a student can take the ACT up to 12 times."

Students in Missouri are not required to take the test but this past year almost three quarters did. Data released late last month shows that scores for the 2014 graduating class are nearly identical to last yearâ??s. Average scores rose to 21, an increase of only a tenth of a point. The national average also hit 21 back in 2010, but the trend for the last five years has only been slightly higher than that.

"I think there's a shift in downward performance because of the larger number of students,â?? Niemeyer says. â??I believe between the years of 2010 and 2014 there was an increase of almost 18% in the number of students who have taken the ACT. What I think is significant is recognizing the diversity of students we have, meeting the needs of those students and recognizing all students are being accessed now rather than simply those that are college-bound."

Still, Truman knows one number doesn't tell the whole story. Many factors are taken into account when determining if an applicant is accepted.

"We're looking at the high school work primarily. The high school grade point average really is the strongest predictor of success at the college level,â?? Morin says. â??We also require an essay. Our courses demand a lot of writing and so we want to make sure a student is prepared for that. [The essay] also tells a little bit about the student too. It's more than the college transcript and test scores tell us."

Truman's latest enrollment numbers won't be known for a few more weeks, but school officials expect them to be in line with last year. Strategies are also being developed to keep Truman a quality institution, regardless of national ACT scores.

"You can't be expected to do the same things year after year and come up with the same results,â?? Morin says. â??We have lots of good people putting their heads together and being strategic in the way we're thinking and targeting specific audiences that we know are good fits for Truman."

According to the ACTâ??s report, students in Missouri and Iowa scored better than the national average. Missouri averaged 21.8, while Iowa students did even better. They averaged a 22.

You can view the full report at this link.