The state's high school seniors scored an average composite of 22.2 out of a possible 36, ranking just behind Minnesota among states where significant numbers of students take the test.
"Our 2014 graduates did a fine job on the ACT," said State Superintendent Tony Evers. "Their efforts, along with support from their teachers and parents, have resulted in statewide ACT scores that are second in the nation among ACT-taking states."
Nearly 75 percent of Wisconsin seniors took the exam this year and increased the state's average composite score by one-tenth of a point. The curriculum-based test measures students' readiness for the first year of college.
"Business and industry leaders have told us that to be college-ready is to be career-ready," said Evers. "We want our students to pursue rigorous coursework so they are prepared for the next steps after high school graduation, whether that is further study at a two- or four-year college or university or training with apprenticeship programs, military service, or the workforce."
The ACT also sets minimum scores students should achieve in math, science, reading and English in order for them to be successful during their initial year in college. One in five 2014 graduates in Wisconsin met none of the readiness benchmarks. But more than 50 percent of state graduates earned three or more ACT benchmark scores.
The results also showed continued gaps in the college-readiness benchmark scores of various ethnic groups.
"While overall student performance on the ACT was quite strong, we have work to do to close achievement gaps," Evers said. "The work of my Achievement Gap Task Force, a group of talented educators and leaders from across the state, will provide proven, research-based strategies and resources that any school and school leader can implement immediately to make a difference in the lives of students in Wisconsin classrooms."
The national average composite score is 21. Iowa tied with Ohio and Kansas this year for the number three slot.