Mississippi's ACT college entrance exam scores are up this year.
The average test score for all 2002 high school graduates in the state is 18.6 on a 1 to 36 scale. That's a gain of two-tenths of a point on the national average, which fell from 21 to 20.8.
State Superintendent of Education Henry Johnson says the increase shows the state is moving in the right direction, even with the nation's drop.
Johnson and other state education officials will discuss the results at a news conference Wednesday.
One area of concern is the decline in students taking core courses for college preparation.
Alabama's college-bound students beat the regional average again on the ACT college entrance exam.
Alabama's senior class of 2002 posted an average score of 20.1, the same as the class of 2001.
The average for the 11 Southern states dropped from 20.0 last year to 19.9.
State education officials said it marked the sixth consecutive year that Alabama students topped the regional average.
In Alabama, 30,955 students from public and private schools took the test in preparation for graduating last spring. That number represents 71 percent of the class of 2002, up two percentage points from the previous year.
The ACT is designed to test a student's ability in English, math, reading and science. Used with a student's grade point average, it's intended to be a predictor of first-year college performance.
ACT Incorporated is a nonprofit based in Iowa City, Iowa.