Granite students outperformed their peers nationwide and throughout Utah on college entrance and advanced placement tests last year.

Tuesday evening, Jim Henderson, district staff associate for testing and advanced placement, enthusiastically reported to Granite Board members the 1988 test scores.On the American College Testing (ACT) tests, Granite students had average composite scores of 19.6, compared with the state's 18.9 and nation's 18.8. The district also beat its own previous test averages in four of five ACT areas, including English, natural science, social studies and the composite.

The mathematics average score for the district remained the same, compared with 1987.

Utah scores have been improving consistently for the past few years and surpass or match national averages in all areas except math.

The scores are more impressive, Henderson said, when the percentage of Utah students taking the tests is considered. More than 67 percent of Utah's juniors or seniors take the ACT test. As more students take the test, the averages incorporate more students who are not in the higher achievement groups, he said.

Utah has the strongest advanced placement program in the country, Henderson said, and Granite has a proportionately higher percent of its students involved in the college-preparation classes. Since 1982, the number of tests taken in the district for AP college credit has risen from 748 to 1,646, a 120 percent increase.

The number of tests passed has had an even more significant increase - from 510 to 1,269 for a 149 percent rise. With 17 percent of the state's students, Granite represented 20 percent of the AP tests, he said.

"The higher percent passing reflects the excellent teaching going on in this program," Henderson said.

The state supports AP classes with some additional funding that keeps the classes small - 20 to 26 students in general.

Utah far outstrips other states in the proportional number of students enrolled in AP courses and taking the tests. In 1988, 613 students per 100,000 student population took the tests here, compared with 185 nationally. Virginia, which is in second place, had 336 per 100,000; New York, 318; and South Carolina, 307.

After a period when Utah students in general lagged behind the national average in tests passed, the state now has climbed above the national figure. Granite has consistently been above the national averages since 1984, Henderson said.