Scores for the ACT exam are also up in Utah, with the state earning the highest average score in the nation for states that test 100 percent of high school students.
"I invite our K-12 teachers to help all of their students realize that college should be part of their future," Buhler said. "And I encourage our college faculty to do even more to help every student reach their goal of graduation."
Menlove spoke about the gains made in both ACT and AP testing, as well as increases in the statewide graduation rate. He said Utah's education system is often regarded as a model of innovation and efficiency — matching or outperforming many national averages despite the lowest per-pupil spending in the country — and that educators should be proud of the return on investment for Utah taxpayers.
But Menlove added that schools must continue moving forward to ensure that all children have the literacy and numeracy skills they need to be prepared to enter the workforce or pursue higher education.
In addition to a 90 percent graduation rate, the 66 by 2020 goal also calls for 90 percent of students to test at grade-level proficiency in math and English language arts.
"These are lofty but achievable goals," Menlove said.
Herbert said the state is on pace to reach 66 percent by 2020 with recent increases in the number of degrees and certifications awarded and improvement in the state's graduation rate. But he added that maintaining that momentum over the next seven years will become more difficult, and it will take collaboration for the state to succeed.
"It’s gong to take considerable effort, but our kids are worth that effort," Herbert said.
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