ACT scores drop to lowest level in 30 years

Education

(NewsNation) — The scores are in, and high schoolers who took the ACT this year didn’t do well.

The average score was below a 20 for the first time since 1991. Students averaged a 19.8 out of a possible 36.

In another sign of concern for educators, 42% of those students didn’t meet any of the subject benchmarks. Those benchmarks are used as indicators of how well students will perform in the corresponding college course.

“We’ve always recommended that it’s part of the holistic admissions process, you know, one piece of, of a student getting to tell their story and put their best foot forward,” said Rose Babington, senior director of state partnerships for ACT.

This isn’t the first time scores have dipped — the numbers have been trending down for five years — but this year is different.

Lower test scores are partly being attributed to students learning remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is cumulative, with the pandemic happening, these tests are heavy in algebra 2 and with kids thrown into home schooling, most parents can’t teach algebra 2,” one teacher said.

But students who aren’t at schools with rigorous curriculums suffer more.

“Our students in rural areas, students from low-income families, students who have historically faced these challenges, we know that that was further exacerbated by the pandemic,” Babington said.

While nearly 1,000 colleges are no longer requiring the ACT and SAT for admittance, the tests are still tied to scholarship opportunities.

The number of students taking the ACT has decreased 30% since 2018 as some students decide not to go to college. With the lower scores, educators say there is also an increase in the number of students retaking the test.

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