According to the 2011 ACT report, Georgia high school students improved in a number of areas on the ACT, even while the number of students tested increased from 44 percent in 2010 to 47 percent in 2011. Some of the student gains include the following: more high school seniors demonstrating college readiness, key demographic subgroups outperforming the national average and improvements in eight- and 10-grade student assessments of college readiness.
The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement test designed to measure college readiness and preparation. The test includes four separate exams in English, reading, mathematics and science. There also is an optional writing portion. The exam is scored on a scale from 0 to 36.
The report reveals that more of Georgia’s students — 9,015 in 2011, compared to 8,282 in 2010 — demonstrated college and career readiness this year in all four areas — English, reading, mathematics and science — of the test. Nationally, 25 percent of ACT test-takers demonstrated college readiness.
“These findings show more of our students are college and career ready,” State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge said. “But, we still must close the gap with the national average because our students will be competing for entry into college and for jobs with students from all over the country, not just students from Georgia.”
The ACT College Readiness Benchmarks are based on the actual grades earned by students in college, define college and career readiness and report student performance results relative to that goal.
ACT composite scores
Forty-seven percent of Georgia’s 42,929 graduating seniors in 2011 took the ACT and had an average composite score of 20.6. This average is down 0.1 percentage point from last year’s 20.7 and 0.5 percentage point less than the national average of 21.1.
“Typically when you see a significant increase in the number of students taking a test, you have a greater decline in the overall results,” Barge said. “Fortunately, we didn’t see a dramatic decrease, but I believe any decrease is the wrong direction. As we develop our Career Pathways, I am confident we will be able to provide the relevance in our courses that is necessary to give students the skills needed for success in college and careers and also be able to perform well on college entrance exams like the ACT.”
Barge pointed out that when the scores are broken down by race, Georgia students are outperforming the national average across the board.
According to the 2011 ACT report, African-American students had an average composite score of 17.5, higher than the national average of 17.0. Hispanic students had an average composite score of 20.1, higher than the national average of 18.7. White students had an average composite score of 22.8, higher than the national average of 22.4.
“One of the greatest highlights of the ACT report is seen with our subgroup performance,” Barge said. “I’m pleased that key subgroups of Georgia students are outperforming the national averages when comparing scores.”
Eighth- and 10th-grade assessment programs
Results from ACT’s eighth- and 10th-grade assessment programs, EXPLORE and PLAN, show readiness improving from those grades to high school graduation.
The proportion of students on track for college readiness in at least three subject areas increases from 27 percent (EXPLORE) to 29 percent (PLAN) to 35 percent (ACT). EXPLORE and PLAN results can be used to help guide improvement efforts, as early monitoring and intervention are keys to growth in academic performance.
For more information, go to www.act.org.