In 2022, roughly 1.3 million graduating high school students – 36% of the total – sat down for the ACT exam. The ACT (formerly the American College Testing Program) assesses college readiness in English, math, science, and reading. Many colleges base admittance on a student’s ACT test results.
In recent years, an alarming trend has emerged, as ACT scores have steadily declined. According to ACT, Inc., the national average composite score for 2022 graduates decreased from 20.3 in 2021 to 19.8 – the lowest average since 1991.
In a blog on the ACT website, CEO Janet Godwin noted that only 22% of the students who took the test met all four ACT benchmarks, or the levels at which the organization deems students stand a greater chance of success in higher education. Meanwhile, 42% didn’t achieve any of the benchmarks.
Godwin said the declines began before the pandemic disrupted education, and served as “further evidence of longtime systemic failures exacerbated by the pandemic.” (These are the most and least educated states in America.)
While national scores are down, results vary by state. To compile a list of the average ACT score in every state, 24/7 reviewed data provided by Scholaroo, a global scholarship database. The site calculated the average of all ACT scores taken by high school students in 2022 in all categories – English, math, reading, and science. (Here are the 21 states where students score the worst on math tests.)
Massachusetts and California tied for the highest average composite score at 26.5. Connecticut (26.3), New Hampshire (25.7), and New York (25.3) round out the top five. What made the difference in those states? It’s hard to say, with many factors, including school funding, involved. But as Scholaroo points out, all those states except California have the lowest incidence of teacher shortages in the country.
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