High school students’ scores on the ACT college admissions test have dropped to their lowest in more than three decades, showing a lack of student preparedness for college-level coursework, according to the nonprofit organization that administers the test.
Scores have been falling for six consecutive years, but the trend accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students in the graduating class of 2023, whose scores were reported Wednesday, were in their first year of high school when the virus reached the U.S.
“The hard truth is that we are not doing enough to ensure that graduates are truly ready for postsecondary success in college and career,” said Janet Godwin, CEO for the nonprofit ACT, which stands for American College Testing.
The average ACT composite score for U.S. students was 19.5 out of 36. Last year, the average score was 19.8.
Among California’s 2023 high school graduates (PDF), the average composite score — of 25.7 — was significantly higher than the national average. But that’s in large part because only an estimated 4% of high school graduates in the state actually took the exam, among the lowest rates in the nation.