ACT Test Scores Hit Three-Decade Low

Test answer sheet | Image by Vixit

The administrator of a college admissions test announced some worrying results that suggest high school students are graduating without being prepared for higher education.

The non-profit organization American College Testing (ACT) recently announced that the average composite score for its test measuring students’ college readiness in the subjects of mathematics, reading, and science plummeted to 19.5 out of a possible score of 36 among test-takers in 2023.

Of the more than 1.4 million high school seniors who took the ACT test this year, only 20.8% met benchmarks for success in college-level classes in all subjects. An alarming 43.3% met none of the benchmarks.

Declines were seen across all three subjects between 2022 and 2023, with average mathematics scores falling from 19.3 to 19.0, average reading scores dropping from 20.4 to 20.1, and average science scores dipping from 19.9 to 19.6.

Not only does this year’s ACT average composite score mark the sixth consecutive year of decline, but it is also the lowest recorded since 1991, as explained by Allie Ciaramella, an ACT spokesperson, according to Axios.

Although the importance of standardized admissions tests such as the SAT has waned, with many universities opting to make them optional, they can still demonstrate college readiness and help orient students to the right courses at university.

ACT CEO Janet Godwin urged school officials and policymakers to consider the latest lackluster ACT scores as an alarm bell.

“The hard truth is that we are not doing enough to ensure that graduates are truly ready for postsecondary success in college and career,” Godwin said in a press release. “These systemic problems require sustained action and support at the policy level. This is not up to teachers and principals alone — it is a shared national priority and imperative.”

The post-high school unpreparedness has been evident at Dallas ISD, with the district only logging a score of 59 out of 100 for College, Career, and Military Readiness. Additionally, only 41% of students scored at grade level on their STAAR exams during the 2022-2023 school year, and nearly 20% of the graduating Class of 2022 failed to earn a diploma in four years despite the hard work of the district’s educators.

It is worth noting that the graduating Class of 2023 began high school just as the COVID-19 pandemic made its presence known in the United States.

As extensively covered by The Dallas Express, several issues have reared their heads among student populations in the aftermath of the pandemic-related lockdowns, including misbehavior in the classroom, absenteeism, and eroding mental health that many have linked to the drug crisis.

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