The ACT scores for the Class of 2012 were released today. There is some good news for Kentucky.
The overall ACT Composite Score for all Kentucky students, including both public schools and students from other educational programs like home school and private schools, have edged up again for the second time since 2010.
What makes this news especially nice is the fact that Kentucky adopted policies (which the Bluegrass Institute supported) with Senate Bill 130 in 2006 that now test all public school students in the state with the ACT.
The policy first impacted the graduating class of 2009. As the table shows, this resulted in an immediate sharp increase in the number of Kentucky graduates who took the ACT.
The participation jump was accompanied by a notable, but expected, drop in the ACT Composite Score of 1.5 points. Similar drops were experienced in other states such as Colorado and Illinois which had adopted full testing of all students several years earlier.
However, the ACT Composite for Kentucky didn’t improve in 2010 as expected, and many held their breath about Kentucky’s policy change as a result.
Finally, in 2011, Senate Bill 130 and another bill, Senate Bill 1 from the 2009 Regular Legislative Session, started to take hold. The second bill dropped our poorly focused CATS assessments and set the state on course to emphasize college and careers in our schools.
The impact of these bills appeared to take hold in 2011 when the overall ACT Composite Score jumped up 0.2 point. Now, the trend is continued in 2012 with another 0.2 point increase, which indicates the improvement in 2011 is not a fluke.
While the improvement is important, it is also important to understand that Kentucky needs to make far more progress if we are going to achieve the goal of getting the vast majority of our students ready for college and careers. The new ACT reports also show how very far we are away from that goal.
The new ACT reports discuss the percentages of all Kentucky students who achieved the ACT Benchmark Scores. Reaching Benchmarks indicate good odds for success in college. The Benchmarks are based on an ACT survey of many colleges. Students who achieve at least the ACT Benchmark Score have about a 75 percent chance of earning a “C” and a 50 percent chance of earning a “B” in their first related course in a typical college.
We are far away from where we want to be. The graph below shows Kentucky’s Benchmark performance for all students, public and private averaged together.
Even in our best subject, English, little more than half of our 2012 graduates are college-ready. For other subjects, the rate of readiness drops rapidly.
So, much remains to be accomplished for our students, but the trend is now established in the right direction.
Stay tuned, because there will be more posted in the blog on the ACT performance, including the public school only and private school only results.
Tech Note: Data above come from multiple years of ACT score releases from the ACT Web Site.