ACT scores for Tennessee grads improve slightly, still at bottom

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 at 2:07pm
Staff reports

While Tennessee high school students’ ACT test scores may have slightly improved over last year’s marks, the state still ranked just above rock bottom in the country with only Mississippi below.

Of all Tennessee graduates, 16 percent met all four ACT college readiness benchmarks (national average 25 percent) rising a percentage point over last year, according to the ACT report “The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2012” released Wednesday morning.

Broken down by subject, 59 percent of all 2012 Tennessee graduates met ACT college readiness benchmarks in English, 29 percent in math, 43 percent in reading and 21 percent in science. States grads earned an average composite score (made up of English, math, science and reading averages) of 19.7, with the national average at 21.1 percent.

Tennessee is one of only nine states in which all high school students were required to take the ACT test.

“It’s going to take year after year of these incremental gains to see Tennessee students exhibiting the high levels of achievement we know they can reach,” said state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “Far too many students in our state graduate without the knowledge they need for college or the job market. We are implementing education reforms designed to address these deficiencies and drive continuous improvement.”

One alarming aspect of the ACT report, however, is the reflection that college readiness among some racial minorities in Tennessee lags woefully behind that of other students. According to state education officials, only 3 percent of black students and 9 percent of Hispanic students met college benchmarks in the four core subjects, in contrast to 18 percent of white students and 31 percent of Asian students.

The nonprofit ACT organization says that overall the nationwide ACT scores point to success in college and beyond is “at risk” for at least 60 percent of likely college-bound 2012 U.S. high school graduates, meeting only two of the four ACT benchmarks.

Of all the graduates nationwide that took the ACT in 2012, more than a quarter, 28 percent, did not meet any of the four benchmarks. Another 15 percent met only one of the benchmarks, while 17 percent only just two. Only 25 percent of the tested grads met all four benchmarks, remaining unchanged from last year.

Accord to ACT, a total of 1.66 million graduates in 2012 — about 52 percent of U.S. graduating class — took the ACT, representing a record level of participation

5 Comments on this post:

By: Magnum on 8/22/12 at 2:01

While these stats are terrible and my comment isn't intended to be in defense of these results, the comps are apples and oranges. You can't compare a state such as TN that requires all students to take the ACT to one that does not. The only state-to-state comparison of value would be our comparison to the nine states that do require all students to take the exam.

By: Balo on 8/23/12 at 7:19

There is only one real purpose of the ACT test (score). It gives the colleges a reason to either accept a student or reject a student. Other than that, the test has zero validity. To require students to take the exam is meaningless. This is one more standardized test that the government requires students to take. It is like how many test can be given in one school year?

By: BigPapa on 8/23/12 at 7:20

Makes for a bad headline, but yeah making EVERYONE take the ACT.. kids that have no interest in going to college really skews the result.

By: JohnGalt on 8/24/12 at 12:55

Why should students with absolutely no desire or need to go to college be forced to take this meaningless (to them) exam. Wouldn't you ho-hum through it, too?

By: firstworldproblems on 8/26/12 at 12:27

Agreed. Add to that the fact that many of our Hispanic students here in Nashville are undocumented and know they aren't going to college - (this is a fact, folks, spoken as a teacher, not an attack on them) - and quite a few black students still trying to "keep it real," still convinced they will all be NBA stars, NFL stars, record producers, rappers, or that their mothers will take care of them forever. It doesn't make for great test scores. A lack of hope from the Hispanics, a lack of motivation from the black students.