Average ACT Scores Rise in Eight SREB States, Fall in Region Overall
Test Takers Increase Dramatically
Atlanta â€” August 21, 2013 â€” Average ACT scores increased from 2012 to 2013 in half of the 16 Southern Regional Education Board states but went down for the region as a whole as the number of seniors who took the test while in high school jumped 15 percent, according to ACT Inc. data released today.
The average composite score for the Class of 2013 in the SREB region was 20.0, down from 20.3 in 2012 â€” echoing a decline in the U.S. average score from 21.1 to 20.9. One-tenth of 1 point is statistically significant for average ACT scores, which have the highest possible score of 36.
Eight SREB states had average score gains from 0.1 to 0.3 points, including Alabama, Delaware, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Six had declines, including Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina and Tennessee. Average composite scores in Georgia and West Virginia remained the same.
When more students take a test, average scores generally drop, but changes that are under way in high school policy drove up test participation and affected the 2013 ACT results, according to Joan Lord, SREBâ€™s vice president of Education Policies.
â€œThis is a transition year in testing and school accountability policy, and weâ€™re seeing a shift in scores as a result,â€ Lord said. â€œI can predict weâ€™ll see a similar shift again next year.â€
Most states across the nation are redesigning their school accountability systems, using federal waivers as they await the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act â€” better known as No Child Left Behind. In the SREB region, 15 states have these waivers, and the 16th (Texas) has a waiver request pending. As part of those efforts, Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina and Tennessee now require all students to take the ACT in order to earn a diploma.
North Carolina had a huge increase in the number of seniors in the Class of 2013 who took the test while in high school, and this increase had particular impact on the region. North Carolina previously was an SAT-dominant state. In 2011, North Carolinaâ€™s state Board of Education selected the ACT as the stateâ€™s college- and career-readiness measure, as part of the stateâ€™s move to a new school accountability model. As a result, the state had nearly 98,000 seniors reporting ACT scores in 2013 â€” roughly 79,000 more than last year (more than quadrupling).
Among racial and ethnic groups, the 2013 average composite score for the SREB region declined the same amount (0.3 points) for both white and black students, and it declined less (0.2 points) for Hispanic students.
For the first time, 12 SREB states had more than 50 percent of their students taking the ACT. Historically, half of the region has been ACT-dominant and the other half has been SAT-dominant. By 2012, three previously SAT-dominant states â€” Florida, Georgia and South Carolina â€” had more than 50 percent of seniors reporting ACT scores. In 2013, North Carolina, joined those states.