ACT Scores Rise in State
Report shows incremental gains among South Carolina seniors on college entrance exam
South Carolina’s 2011 public, private, and home schooled high school graduates made incremental gains on the ACT college entrance exam, according to data released by the company.
Participation increased by 1,150 South Carolina students over last year.
The national average composite score for all students was 21.1, an increase of one-tenth of one point from the previous year, while the national average composite score for public school students was also 21.1. South Carolina public high school students had an average composite score of 19.9, a gain of two-tenths of one point, and the all students average composite score was 20.1 for the State, a gain of one-tenth of one point.
“Behind every statistic is a real student with real aspirations. The students, parents, and teachers all share in the credit for these gains. Congratulations to these students for their hard work and perseverance,” State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais said.
Zais raised issue with the state’s lagging scores behind the national composite score and each subject area, with particular emphasis on the two biggest subject area gaps: Reading and English.
“While college admissions tests are not good indicators of school effectiveness, the data confirms a trend: reading skills remain an area of great concern. Nationwide assessments continue to show a reading gap between South Carolina and the nation. Addressing the reading gap must be our top priority because reading is fundamental to everything else in a student’s education. If a student cannot read, they will not succeed in school," Zais said.
The national ACT average score for all students in the Reading subject area is 21.3, resulting in a gap of 1 point for all South Carolina students and a gap of 1.3 points for South Carolina public school students. The national ACT average score for all students in the English subject area is 20.6; resulting in a gap of 1.2 points for all South Carolina students and 1.6 points for South Carolina public school students.
The released ACT scores are from students who graduated in 2011, regardless of when they took the test during their high school careers. The ACT includes four tests: English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. Scores are reported in each of those as well as the overall composite using a 36-point scale.
Of all South Carolina students taking the ACT, 87.4 percent attend public schools, up from 87.1 percent last year. Private and home school students taking the ACT comprised 12.6 percent of South Carolina’s ACT test-takers, down from 12.9 percent last year.
Average ACT composite scores for white students in South Carolina’s public schools increased one-tenth of a point to 22.1 in the 2011 report; African-American students’ average scores were 16.6, an increase of one-tenth of one point. The average ACT composite score for all white students was 22.2 while the average composite score for all African-American students in South Carolina was 16.6.
The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement exam designed to measure the academic skills that are taught in schools and is used as an indicator for success in first-year college courses. The SAT is an implied learning test that measures how students think based on their experiences both in and out of the classroom setting.
All South Carolina colleges and universities accept either ACT or SAT scores for admission. The five South Carolina universities receiving the most scores from all South Carolina ACT test-takers were the University of South Carolina (Columbia), Clemson, College of Charleston, Coastal Carolina, and Winthrop. Ninety-one percent of the state’s ACT participants said they hope to earn a two-year degree or higher in their postsecondary career. Their most popular fields for majors are health sciences & technologies, business, undecided and education.