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School shutdown results: ACT test scores fall, lowest in 30 years

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

It is yet more proof of the severe damage caused by COVID school shutdowns. Today, we learned the national average ACT score for the class of 2022 was the lowest in more than three decades. More than 40% of seniors met none of the college benchmarks.

ACT says the declines in performance have returned student achievement to levels not seen since the early 1990’s – in other words, we have lost more than 30 years of student achievement.

Only six states tested all graduates – Wyoming was one of them. Montana tested 94%.

Idaho, however, only tested 15%. Washington tested just 7% of graduates. But Washington and Idaho’s composite score was above the national average.

More info from the ACT report:

  • The average Composite score declined by 0.5 points, from 20.3 in 2021 to 19.8 in 2022. It is the first time that the average Composite score has been below 20.0 since at least as far back as 1991.

  • Between 2021 and 2022, average English scores declined 0.6 points (from 19.6 to 19.0), average mathematics scores declined 0.6 points (from 19.9 to 19.3), average reading scores declined 0.5 points (from 20.9 to 20.4), and average science scores declined by 0.5 points (from 20.4 to 19.9).

  • Slightly less than one-third of ACT-tested graduates in the class of 2022 (32%) met at least three out of four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks. More than 40% of ACT-tested graduates in the class of 2022 (42%) met none of the benchmarks.

  • Participation in the ACT State and District Testing program continued to grow in the 2021-2022 academic school year. This is a trend that has been increasing since 2015, when only 27 percent of ACT-tested graduates took the test as part of a statewide or districtwide administration. For the 2022 graduating class, 60 percent of students tested at least once through the program. The ACT State and District Testing program provides students the opportunity to earn college-reportable ACT scores by taking the test in their own classrooms during regular school hours on a weekday. School day testing availability expands access to education opportunity for all students, but especially for students from low-income families, those who would be the first in their families to go to college, and students in rural areas.

  • For the class of 2021, the college enrollment rate was 57 percent, down from 59 percent for the previous class.

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