Average scores on the ACT from the high school graduating class of 2022 dropped to their lowest point in 30 years.
Approximately 1.3 million students in this year’s graduating class took the ACT, a test comparable to the SATs that some students use in their college applications. The national average composite score for the graduating class of 2022 was 19.8 out of a possible 36, down from 20.3 among the graduating class of 2021. It marks the lowest average score since 1991, according to the ACT organization.
The organization also said 32% of ACT-tested graduates met at least three out of the four subject-area benchmarks in English, reading, math and science. But 42% met none of the benchmarks, and 22% met all four. The benchmarks are supposed to represent the “minimum ACT scores required for students to have a higher probability of success in credit-bearing first-year college courses,” according to the ACT.
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‘Fifth consecutive year of declines’
While the ACT noted the graduating class of 2022 suffered the effects of the coronavirus pandemic throughout their time in high school, including their sophomore, junior and senior years for some, the organization noted scores were declining before the global spread of COVID-19.
“This is the fifth consecutive year of declines in average scores, a worrisome trend that began long before the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has persisted,” ACT CEO Janet Godwin said in a Wednesday statement. “The magnitude of the declines this year is particularly alarming, as we see rapidly growing numbers of seniors leaving high school without meeting the college-readiness benchmark in any of the subjects we measure.”
Godwin added that “A return to the pre-pandemic status quo would be insufficient and a disservice to students and educators.”
“These systemic failures require sustained collective action and support for the academic recovery of high school students as an urgent national priority and imperative,” she said.
The number of students who take the ACT has declined 30% since 2018, due to a range of factors. For example, some colleges and universities no longer require tests like the ACT or SAT.
College applications spiked for the 2021-2022 school year, with many students taking advantage of the relaxed test score policies that some schools implemented during the pandemic.
While applications are increasing at many schools, that hasn’t always translated to larger enrollment numbers across the country. As of July, undergraduate enrollment had fallen by over a million students in the past two years, due to the pandemic, the nation’s workforce and more.
Contributing: Lindsay Schnell, and Chris Quintana, USA TODAY; Associated Press