Oct 11, 2023 - Politics & Policy

ACT test scores fall to lowest levels in 32 years

Average composite ACT score
Data: NCES and ACT; Chart: Axios Visuals

The class of 2023 had the worst ACT performance in more than three decades, according to newly released data from the nonprofit that administers the college admissions test.

Why it matters: The scores are the latest indication of the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on education, with academic performance and test scores declining at all levels. The 2023 cohort was in its first year of high school when the pandemic began.

By the numbers: The 2023 composite score, an average of the scores for the English, math, reading and science sections, was 19.5 out of 36.

  • This was the lowest since at least 1991, Allie Ciaramella, a spokesperson for the nonprofit, told Axios on Wednesday.
  • It sunk slightly lower than the 2022 score of 19.8, which had been a 30-year low, as well.

Driving the news: More than four in 10 seniors don't meet any of the ACT's college readiness benchmarks, the testing organization said on Tuesday. These are the minimum scores for predicted success in college courses.

  • Average scores have been declining for six consecutive years, ACT CEO Janet Godwin said in a statement.
  • "The hard truth is that we are not doing enough to ensure that graduates are truly ready for postsecondary success in college and career," she said.

Zoom out: Test scores across all ages have seen record lows since the pandemic.

Go deeper: ACT test scores fall to lowest levels since 1991

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