TN ACT participation at all time high

Posted By | November 25, 2019 10:31 am

By Rachel Auberger

Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn recently announced that 98 percent of Tennessee’s 2019 graduating class, an all-time state high, participated in the American College Testing.

A total of 63,829 students from Tennessee’s high school seniors took the ACT, earning an average composite score of 20. Of those students, 41.7 percent earned a score of 21 or higher, making them eligible for the HOPE scholarship.

Tennessee is the first, and only, state to offer its students the opportunity to retake the ACT free of charge. The class of 2019 was the third cohort to have access to the state’s ACT Senior Retake Day, an investment that has yielded promising results. Fifty percent of students who participated in the ACT Senior Retake Day increased their composite score from their junior year, in 2018, including, 3,825 seniors who raised their composite score to a 21 or higher, allowing them to access more than $61 million in HOPE Scholarship funds. Tennessee is the first and only state to offer this opportunity on a statewide scale.

“More Tennessee students than ever before are taking advantage of the ACT and ACT retake,” Schwinn said. “It is critical that we continue to increase access to these high-quality opportunities for all students, no matter where they live. This is one way that we will build a foundation to set all students on a path to success.”

The average ACT score for the public school graduating class of 2019 in each subject area was:

  • 19.6 in English, 0.1 point decrease from 2018
  • 19.4 in math, 0.1 point decrease
  • 20.5 in reading, 0.2 point decrease
  • 20.0 in science, 0.3 point decrease

While the 2019 ACT composite is down slightly from the 2018 composite score of 20.2, Schwinn said the decline in Tennessee closely mirrors national declines in ACT results, while Tennessee’s increase in participation affirms the state’s commitment to providing access to all students.

Other encouraging results show that participation rates increased for students who are economically disadvantaged, students classified as English learners, and students with disabilities and that composite score for students with disabilities remained steady and

ACT results serve as a national-normed measure to indicate college and career readiness. Under Tennessee’s accountability model and while the ACT measures the culmination of what students have learned throughout their K-12 education, the state’s TCAP assessment, taken by students in all grades,  complements ACT as a deeper, standards-based assessment that looks at what students learn annually and provides teachers and families with feedback each year. Together, ACT and TCAP help to identify if students are ready for their chosen path after high school and earning a 21 on the ACT is one of the four ways that students can indicate that they are prepared for a seamless entry into postsecondary education, the workplace, or the military.

“Tennessee continues to show a strong commitment to advancing student achievement,” Schwinn added to her previous statement. “As more students take this assessment, we are more aware than ever before of the diverse needs of our state. Our new strategic plan, Best for All, will strengthen supports around high-quality materials, the whole child, and our educators and leaders.”

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