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Student ACT Scores Decline from Year Before

The average ACT test composite score fell to 19.5 for the Class of 2023, signaling a 0.3-point decrease from the year before, according to new data.Act TestingGetty Images

Data from the nonprofit organization indicated that average scores in mathematics, reading, and science were all below their respective ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, the minimum scores for students to have a high probability of success in credit-bearing first-year college courses.

Average English scores fell 0.4 points (19.0 to 18.6), average math scores fell 0.3 points (19.3 to 19.0), average reading scores declined 0.3 points (20.4 to 20.1), and average science scores declined by 0.3 points (19.9 to 19.6), compared to 2022, according to the ACT.

Additionally, the percentage of students meeting all four benchmarks dropped 1.3 percentage points (22.1% to 20.8%) and the percentage of students meeting no benchmarks rose 1.7 percentage points (41.6% to 43.3%).

“This is the sixth consecutive year of declines in average scores, with average scores declining in every academic subject,” said ACT CEO Janet Godwin. “We are also continuing to see a rise in the number of seniors leaving high school without meeting any of the college readiness benchmarks, even as student GPAs continue to rise and students report that they feel prepared to be successful in college.”

The Class of 2023 is a “COVID cohort,” given that the class were in their first year of high school during the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The hard truth is that we are not doing enough to ensure that graduates are truly ready for postsecondary success in college and career,” Godwin said. “These systemic problems require sustained action and support at the policy level. This is not up to teachers and principals alone – it is a shared national priority and imperative.”

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