Average ACT Scores Increase in Many SREB States;
Number of Test Takers Continues to Grow
Atlanta — August 22, 2012 — Average ACT scores increased from 2011 to 2012 in many Southern Regional Education Board states and declined in none — even as the number of students taking the test continued to rise, according to ACT Inc. data released today.
In 11 SREB states, more than 50 percent of the Class of 2012 took the ACT
while in high school. Among those states, average composite scores rose in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina and Tennessee and stayed the same in Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia.
The average composite score over all 16 SREB states was 20.3, up from 20.2 in 2011. The 2012 U.S. average composite score was 21.1, the same as last year. One tenth of one point is statistically significant for average ACT scores, on which the highest possible score is a 36.
Student use of the ACT has soared in several SREB states, including Florida, where the percentage of students tested increased from 41 percent in 2005 to 70 percent by 2012.
In the SREB region overall, about 20,000 more students from the Class of 2012 took the test than from the Class of 2011— rising to 638,129 from this year’s graduating class alone and outpacing the rate of growth nationally. Between the Class of 2005 and the Class of 2012, the number of students tested in the region grew by 217,000.
Among racial and ethnic student groups, the 2012 average composite score improved by 0.1 of a point over 2011 for both white and black students in the SREB region, outpacing average scores for the nation, which remained flat. Average score for Hispanic students improved 0.2 of a point, the same as the U.S. rate of improvement. Average scores for Hispanic students are slightly higher in the SREB region than in nation as a whole. Average SREB-region scores for black and white students continue to be lower than national averages.
"These gains in scores are particularly remarkable because they occurred as many more students took the test,” said Joan Lord, SREB’s vice president of Education Policies. “Generally, as a larger group — representing a broader cross-section of students — takes a test, average scores drop. It’s good sign when more students take this test and scores improve.”
Georgia and Oklahoma, both at 20.7, had the highest average composite scores of the SREB states where greater than 50 percent of students took the test. Arkansas led the region in gains in average composite scores, up 0.4 of a point from 2011 to 2012.
Improving students' readiness to succeed in college and careers is a major focus of SREB's policy and school improvement work. SREB works with policy-makers to implement a model college-readiness agenda statewide. SREB is working directly with Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee to put into practice transitional courses that help juniors and seniors identified as "unready" start college without remediation. Major reports on the topic include Beyond the Rhetoric: Improving College Readiness Through Coherent State Policy. SREB school improvement programs such as High Schools That Work and Preparation for Tomorrow are working to raise the academic rigor of high school career and technical programs.