ACT scores down across the country
College readiness scores are down in Louisiana and across the country this year, according to results released last week.
The ACT assessment is a test aimed at telling students how well prepared they are for a successful first year of college.
The state’s average composite score in 2017-18 was 19.5; this year’s average is 19.2, causing Louisiana to slip from 43rd to 45th nationally on the exam. The results include both public and private school students.
The highest score possible on the college entrance exam is a 36, achieved by less than one-tenth of 1 percent of test-takers.
According to ACT research, students who meet readiness benchmarks — basically target scores in English, math, reading and science — are more likely to go to and stay in college and earn a degree than those who don’t.
In Louisiana students were the most successful in English, where 53 percent of test takers met or exceeded the benchmarks. However, just 35 percent of students met the standard for reading; 24 percent for math; and 25 percent for science.
Louisiana students finished ahead of those in Alabama, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina and Hawaii. All of those states, but Hawaii, require all students to take the ACT. In Hawaii, 89 percent of students took the exam.
Nationally, 60 percent of students met the English benchmark, 46 percent reading, 40 percent math and 36 percent science.
Math scores have dropped nationally since 2012.
“The negative trend in math is a red flag for our country, given the growing importance of math and science skills in the increasingly tech-driven U.S. and global job market,” ACT CEO Marten Roorda said in a written statement.
Since 2013, Louisiana has required all of its high school seniors to take the exam. Among the 17 states where all students take the exam, Louisiana ranks 12th.
Nationwide, only 60 percent of students took the ACT.
Louisiana’s dip is a little disappointing. Standardized tests — for all their flaws — offer a uniform measure of accountability. They’re useful to evaluate individual student growth, measure teacher performance, and marshal federal and state funds. When taken into consideration with school attendance, graduation rates, advanced course offerings and college enrollment numbers, test scores help paint a picture of the health of a school and its district.