Los Alamos High School. Courtesy photo
In 2016, 204 graduating LAPS students took the ACT test. The average composite score was 24.4, with average scores of 24.1 in English, 23.3 in mathematics, 25.2 in reading, and 24.4 in science. The highest possible score is 36.
The average scores in Los Alamos were higher than the average scores across the state. In New Mexico 13,435 students took the test and received an average composite score of 19.9, with an average score of 18.9 in English, 19.5 in Mathematics, 20.5 in reading, and 20.1 in science.
The ACT test is designed to measure the skills needed to succeed in first year college coursework, and are a part of the admissions process for many colleges and universities in the United States.
ACT has collaborated with postsecondary schools to establish benchmark scores that can be used to predict whether a student will pass college courses in that subject area. Statistically, by reaching the benchmark score a student will have a 50% chance of earning a B or higher and a 75% chance of earning a C or higher in that subject.
The benchmark scores are: an 18 in the English test for a college English Composition class, a 22 in mathematics for a college Algebra class, a 22 in reading for a college Social Science class, and a 23 in science for a college biology class. In Los Alamos, 83 percent reached the benchmark for a college English Composition class (53 percent statewide), 59 percent reached the benchmark for college Algebra (31 percent statewide), 71 percent reached the benchmark for Social Science (39 percent statewide), 57 percent reached the benchmark for Biology (28 percent statewide), and 47 percent reached the benchmark for all four subject areas (19 percent statewide).
ACT research shows that scores improve significantly when students take rigorous math and science classes. Students who take Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and Geometry score higher than students who take fewer than three years of math courses. Students who take advanced math courses gain a significant increase in their scores. Students who take Biology, Chemistry and Physics classes score higher than students who take fewer than three years of science courses. In Los Alamos, most of the test takers took three years or more of both math and science.