I wrote yesterday about the disturbing decline in Kentucky’s overall ACT Composite Score average. The picture isn’t pretty.
The overall ACT Composite Score average for all 2020 high school graduates in Kentucky – public and private combined – is the lowest posted since 2013. That’s the first year ACT established its current reporting protocol that includes both students tested with standard time limits and those who got extended time due to learning disabilities.
Kentucky’s high school graduates in 2020 only logged an average ACT Composite of 19.5 while back in 2013 the graduates scored 19.6. The score had gone as high as 20.2 for 2018 but has decayed notably since.
That’s about all the data that was available yesterday.
ACT, Inc. has now provided me a copy of the “The ACT Profile Report – State, Graduating Class 2020, Kentucky” report, which currently isn’t online. It has a lot more data.
One of the first items I looked at in Kentucky’s Profile Report was the trend over time for percentages of our graduates that met the various ACT Benchmark Scores. These ACT Benchmark Scores represent the level of achievement required for students to have a 50% chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75% chance of obtaining a C or higher in corresponding credit-bearing first-year college courses. Those actual benchmark scores are 18 in English, 22 in Reading, 22 in Math and 23 in Science.
So, here is how Kentucky’s ACT Benchmark Scores look for graduates in the classes of 2015 through 2020.
Again, this isn’t a pretty picture.
Without question, the worst performance is for ACT English, where the percentage of students who could meet even the fairly low benchmark score of 18 for this subject dropped by 7 points between 2015 and 2020. Now, barely half of Kentucky’s students have a good enough command of English to succeed in freshman college coursework.
The next largest drop is for math, where only 28% of the Class of 2020 met ACT’s muster while 32% did back in 2015. Both of these percentages are obviously disturbingly low, so going farther in the wrong direction is especially concerning.
The decays from 2015 to 2020 for the other ACT subjects aren’t as large, but there are decays in every case from reading and science to the number of graduates who passed muster across all four tested areas. Also, the current percentage of graduates who read adequately to succeed in college is only 38%. Nearly two out of three graduates are obviously going to have problems across the board in college as reading is generally essential for success in any college subject area, perhaps even more so now that COVID-19 has created a lot more distance learning situations.
By the way, these disturbing education decays are not explained by COVID-19. Virtually all students finish taking the ACT by the fall of their senior year, and COVID-19 didn’t start to disrupt school activities for the Class of 2020 until the spring of their final year of high school.
“The ACT Profile Report – State, Graduating Class 2020, Kentucky,” ACT, Inc., Iowa City, Iowa, 2020 will not be available online. The data plotted in the graph comes from this report and the Profile Report for the graduating class of 2019.
However, a new ACT tool, the “Data Visualization Tool” is available and it and a video describing the tool can be accessed here. I am told the data is available in this new tool, which I will be investigating further.