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Tennessee high school graduates didn't improve their ACT scores this year, but a record number of them took the test, data released recently show.

Two years in a row, Tennessee students scored an average composite of 20.7 on the college admission and placement exam in English, math, reading and science. This year's national average composite score was 21.2, according to the report. Massachusetts came in first with an average score of 23.5. The top possible score is 36.
Tennessee high school graduates didn't improve their ACT scores this year, but a record number of them took the test, data released recently show.

Two years in a row, Tennessee students scored an average composite of 20.7 on the college admission and placement exam in English, math, reading and science. This year's national average composite score was 21.2, according to the report. Massachusetts came in first with an average score of 23.5. The top possible score is 36.

The report also shows that a record 96 percent of Tennessee high school graduates the third best participation rate nationwide, tying with Mississippi took the ACT this year. The current percentage is the highest for Tennessee since 1994, according to the ACT statistics.

The state pays for Tennessee students to take the ACT or SAT once, said Rachel Woods, state Department of Education spokeswoman.

Rich Rhoda, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, said the increasing numbers also may have to do with the ACT being a lottery scholarship requirement.

An ACT spokesman said Tennessee may be bucking a trend with scores inching upward over a five-year span.

"Typically, when we see expanding numbers of students taking the exam, it's more likely for scores to stay stable or go down," said Ed Colby, spokesman for ACT. (The Tennessean, Aug. 15, 2007)

Facing a two-strike count, MTSU's baseball stadium project has hit an inside-the-park home run.

When bids came in higher than anticipated over the summer, it looked as if the stadium plan was going to have to scale back dramatically. The baseball program had $5 million on hand, and only $4 million was allocated toward construction, as bids ranged from $5.4 million to $7.1 million.

Then, when it became apparent that substantial money pledged by MTSU supporter Bob McLean might not come through after several creditors filed suit against him, baseball discovered it needed even more money than expected.

But several supporters were prepared to raise their donations, and the university found enough money through other means to move forward with a $6.6 million stadium project. MTSU had money left over from the track/soccer stadium project and tapped into Blue Raider Athletic Association money, which it will pay back.

Also, the city of Murfreesboro gave the university $5 million for the track/soccer stadium and the baseball stadium as an investment to lure the TSSAA Spring Fling here.

It also took a huge effort to raise more than half of the money through private donations, since baseball doesn't have the fan base of football and basketball. (Daily News Journal, Aug. 14, 2007)

In March, University of Memphis President Shirley Raines questioned the need for an on-campus football stadium.

She said it made no sense "to be out there raising money when you have an existing place to play," citing academically minded projects as the higher priority.

Five months later, as the public fervor for an on-campus facility seems to grow, Raines has grown silent. She's taken to the sidelines of the debate, all but mum while awaiting a consultant report on the feasibility of Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton's proposed new stadium at the Mid-South Fairgrounds.

"Without this information, it is not prudent for me to answer questions," Raines said recently in an e-mail reply to an interview request.

Whether Raines has softened her stance toward an on-campus stadium, though, isn't known. City Council member Scott McCormick met recently with Raines and other top school officials and said, "They didn't say no. ... They took no stance with the on-campus facility because they had no plans to compare it to," said McCormick, chairman of the council parks committee and member of the fairgrounds redevelopment committee. (The Commercial Appeal, Aug. 23, 2007)