The average ACT score among the Madison School District's 2011 graduates dipped to its lowest level in 15 years, while the gap between white and minority student scores shrank for the first time in five years.
Though Madison's average score dipped from 24.2 to 23.9, district students still outperformed the state average of 22.2 and national average of 21.1. A perfect score on the college entrance exam is 36.
Madison's average scores in recent years have ranged from 23.5 in 1995 to 24.6 in 2007. The average score was also 23.9 in 2003.
In a statement, Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad emphasized the improved scores among minority students, while noting the drop in the district average resulted from a decrease in the average score among white students, who account for 61 percent of test-takers.
"We are hopeful that further research will confirm that our strategies aimed at closing achievement gaps are having a direct, positive impact on student achievement," Nerad said.
Statewide 71 percent of public and private students took the ACT — the highest participation rate in state history, Superintendent Tony Evers said. Among the 27 states where a majority of students take the ACT, Wisconsin's average score was third-highest behind Minnesota and Iowa.