Have your schools’ ACT scores flat-lined?
Over two million students nationwide took the ACT last year, that is almost two-thirds (64%) of all 2016 graduates, up from 59% in 2015 and from 40% in 2006.
2.03 million tests average scores came out as follows in 2017:
Each ACT section, and the overall composite score, is scored between 1 and 36.
If you received a composite of 21 or higher, you beat out half of the other high school students in the country. What about in our state of ND? How well do you have to do to be above average in ND (ACT)?
New Hampshire and Massachusetts rank #1 and #2 in the nation with the highest average composite scores of 25.5 and 25.4, however, ACT participation in these two states is relatively low: 18% for New Hampshire and 29% for Massachusetts. The SAT tends to be more popular in these states.
There are seventeen states with 100% ACT participation, Minnesota ranks number one among this group with an average composite score of 21.5, Mississippi ranks the lowest with an average composite score of 18.6.
Here in North Dakota after testing 98% of students our average composite score is 20.3. Composite scores for English were 19.0, Math 20.4, Reading 20.5, and Science 20.6 (ACT 2017).
New to ACT or perhaps deletions from ACT in September of 2016 were subscores for rhetorical skills and arts/literature, added have been a set of reporting categories aligned with ACT College and Career Readiness Standards along with other standards that target college and career readiness. The goal is usability for students, parents, and educators in-an-effort-to gain deeper insight into students’ performance and better understand strengths and areas for improvement in each subject (ACT Profile Report).
First introduced in 2012 was the College Readiness Benchmark in STEM, this score describes students’ overall proficiency in math and science.
New in 2016 is the ACT College and Career Readiness Benchmark Scores: English 18, Math 22, Reading 22, and Science 23. Twenty-six percent of 2016 ACT-tested high school graduates met the college readiness benchmarks in all four subjects. Although this is a new metric to ACT they are able to look at the trend data which shows a relatively flat trend line from 2012-2016 in all four subjects (The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2016).
A core curriculum is defined as four years of English and three years each of mathematics, social studies, and science. ACT has consistently found that students taking the recommended core curriculum are more likely to be ready for college or career than those who do not. Of the 2016 ACT-tested high school graduates who took Core or More versus those who took less than the core saw dramatic differences in College Readiness Benchmarks (CRB). In English for example, sixty-five percent of those taking Core or More met CRB compared to their peers who took less than the core with only thirty-four percent meeting the benchmark. More dramatic are the mathematics results, forty-four percent of students taking Core or More hit the CRB for mathematics while only eight percent met the benchmark if they were less than core (The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2016).
North Dakota saw 58% of 2016 graduates meeting the CRB for English, 41% for reading, 38% for mathematics, and 33% for science. Our neighbors, South Dakota hit CRB percentages that were measurably higher in all 4 content areas; Eng 70%, Rdg 53%, Math 51%, Sci 46%.
According to a University of Northern Colorado study, Good Instructional Leadership: Principals’ Actions to Increase Composite ACT School Scores published in July 2016, themes emerged from what principals reported they were doing to improve composite scores. Three specific themes were identified that principals reported taking (a) training programs, (b) staff professional development, and (c) communication.
The three training programs were specifically identified for students to utilize in-order-to improve their scores. The three training programs were: ACT practice tests, ACT review sessions, and the online program Shmoop.
Staff professional development for ACT preparation for high school staff was used to improve composite ACT high school scores. Some principals led the staff in data analysis of ACT scores other made it a staff-wide effort. Most principals in the study reported that providing professional development for staff on the use of Shmoop were beneficial to students’ ACT scores improvement (Bo Xu, Dongfang Liu 2016).
Communication to stakeholders was identified by all principals in the study. Roundtable discussions with parents, students, and teachers to explore strategies related to improving ACT test scores. One principal reported that he believed the increased communication has had a direct impact on the success the school has seen on the school’s ACT composite score. “I believe this has heightened awareness and has contributed to better buy-in and more seriousness about preparing for the ACT.”
Did you know?
- New ACT reporting categories were introduced in the fall of 2016. They are designed to provide information that is better aligned with college and career readiness standards.
- Three categories for English, Reading, and Science and eight reporting categories for Math
- The ACT Readiness Range is best used to interpret these scores, as each category varies in the number of questions in a category and the variance in difficulty among them.
- The Readiness Range provides students with immediate feedback on which areas require additional assistance.
- 55% of students who re-take the ACT increase their score.
- ACT will send your scores to four colleges for free.
- Scores are based on correct answers only, no penalty for guessing
- Test Preparation works.
ACT K-12 Educators and Administrators http://www.act.org/content/act/en/k12-educators-and-administrators.html
Good Instructional Leadership: Principals’ Actions to Increase Composite ACT School Scores 2016 http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1110248.pdf
Boosting Test Scores: “Principal” Strategies That Work http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin366.shtml