Tennessee's ACT scores improve

Rick Wagner • Aug 22, 2013 at 9:07 AM

Tennessee public high school graduates slightly increased their performance on the ACT test in 2013, earning an average score of 19.3 out of 36, up from 19.2 in 2012, according to state-by-state results released by ACT Wednesday.

This is third year the average ACT score for Tennessee students has increased, from 19.0 in 2011.

Tennessee is one of only nine states to require all high school students take the ACT. Statewide scores help the DOE measure the state’s progress towards its goal of greater college and career readiness for all students, a DOE news release said.

“Tennessee has had 100 percent, when it comes to kids taking the ACT, for some time,” Kingsport City Schools spokesman Andy True said Wednesday.

In Kingsport, True said the composite scores rose from 21.8 in 2011 to 21.9 in 2012 and 22.2 in 2013.

In the 2013 numbers, which represented 410 test takes in Kingsport, English increased from 21.9 to 22 compared to the state average of 19.1

Math went up from 21.5 to 22 compared to 19.1 statewide.

Reading stayed the same at 22.4, compared to the statewide number of 19.8.

And science went from 21.4 to 21.8, compared to 19.4 statewide.

In the county system, David Timbs, the county’s assistant director of teaching and learning, said scores also were up across the board.

The 2013 Sullivan County composite score was 20.1, compared to 19.9 in 2012 and 2011. In individual categories, English was 20, math 19.5, reading 20.5 and science 19.9, all up from 2012.

“We continue to be pretty exited,” Timbs said. He said that is because the ACT closely mirrors forthcoming PARCC or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers assessment for Common Core in math and Englsih/language arts.

Both are to go into effect in Tennesse in 2014-15

Statewide, the percentage of test-takers meeting all of the ACT’s college readiness benchmarks rose from 14 percent to 15 percent in Tennessee as scores increased in 2013.

“While small incremental gains are positive, we must work toward larger growth for Tennessee students,” Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said in a news release. “Far too many students in our state graduate without the knowledge they need for college or the job market. We are implementing education reforms designed to address these deficiencies and drive continuous improvement.”

In Tennessee, 56 percent of graduates met ACT benchmarks in English, 27 percent in math, 33 percent in reading and 24 percent in science.

As in previous years, 2013 scores highlight the necessity for Tennessee to increase college readiness among certain racial minorities. Only 3 percent of black students and 10 percent of Hispanic students met college benchmarks in all four core subjects, compared to 19 percent of white students and 31 percent of Asian students.

In Tennessee, 95 percent of students took the standard duration test while 5 percent took the extended duration test. As of the 2012-13 data release, ACT will now report scores from both categories in reporting the state’s average composite score. This is a change from previous years; historically, ACT has calculated scores for standard time test takers only.

“Starting with the graduating class of 2013, results from the ACT-approved accommodated administrations that result in college-reportable ACT scores will be included as part of the ACT summary reports,” the ACT report states.

Because the state strives to raise standards for all students, he said the composite score of 19 — which includes standard and extended-time test takers — will be the state’s new baseline moving forward.

Timbs and Sarah Akard, who heads federal programs and professional development for Sullivan, today are presenting on implementation of Common Core at the SCORE or State Collaborative on Reforming Education Leadership Summit in Nashville.

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