ACT scores plunge to lowest level in more than 3 decades: report

by Chris Lange
ACT scores plunge to lowest level in more than 3 decades: report

Chris Lange, FISM News


ACT test scores have plummeted to the lowest level in over three decades, according to new data.

The report published by American College Testing revealed that average scores among 2022 high school graduates fell to 19.8 out of 36, representing the lowest national average seen since 1991 and the first time within that period that the composite score dipped below 20. It also represents a decline from 2021, when the average test score was 20.3. 

“This cohort endured the effects of a global pandemic spanning across the three years of their education: sophomore, junior, and senior years,” the report states.

The data further shows that 42% of graduating seniors in 2022 failed to meet any subject benchmarks in English, reading, math, and science — key indicators of academic success among incoming college freshmen.

“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,” ACT CEO Janet Godwin said in a statement.

Conservatives have long blamed COVID-19 lockdowns and distance learning on a myriad of harmful effects on American children, including significant learning gaps that public schools, nearly three years hence, have failed to mitigate. Instead, the data shows that the learning deficit appears to be worsening.

Godwin, however, appeared to dismiss the notion that the lockdowns are linked to the dismal scores, stating that the report reflects “a worrisome trend that began long before the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has persisted.”

In a statement to the Washington Examiner, Laura Zorc, executive director of Building Education for Students Together, said the report underscores an urgent need for school choice.

“Retooling education to appease activists, shutting down schools, and trying to hide falling language arts and math proficiencies in K-12 education is failing our kids,” she said.

“Students graduating from high schools across the country today are less prepared for life, work, and even college. It is time for state education dollars to follow students, not systems, which would allow parents to remove their kids from failing government schools,” Zorc concluded.

It isn’t just the pandemic that has impacted standardized testing. The number of students who actually took the ACT fell by 30% in the last four years, plunging to 37% among black students in 2022, according to the Associated Press.

A factor not mentioned in the AP report is the left’s narrative that standardized scholastic testing was designed to favor affluent, white kids as part of the systemic racism upon which they claim the country and its institutions were founded.

In December 2019, Compton Unified School District, four students and six community organizations sued the University of California over its SAT/ACT requirements. The suit claimed that the requirements violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws because the tests are unfairly biased against minority and low-income students, Forbes reported.

As a result, the entire University of California system dropped the requirement, followed soon thereafter by the University of Chicago and Harvard. In fact, Axios reported that the percentage of colleges and universities that have made the tests optional or dropped them entirely rose from 45% before the pandemic to nearly 80% last year.

Proponents of standardized testing argue that, without it, schools will rely more heavily on extracurricular activities that will ultimately tilt college admissions in favor of students from affluent families. Moreover, they argue that standardized tests level the playing field, allowing students from every creed, color, and background to compete on scholastic merit alone.