Corridor ACT scores better than state, national averages

Record number of students took standardized test last year

  • Photo

IOWA CITY — Iowa’s graduating high school seniors outpaced the national average ACT score by more than a point, according to data released Wednesday by the Iowa City-based testing giant.

About 68 percent of Iowa students took the college readiness test and scored an average composite score of 22.1, which is calculated by averaging scores on the test’s math, reading, English and science sections. The national average was 20.8 out of a possible 36.

Among nine school districts in the Corridor, students averaged a score of 23.8.

Topping the local list was the Iowa City Community School District, where the average score was 25.4. About 600 graduating seniors out of 953 took the test.

“We’re really pushing hard to to get more kids to take it,” Iowa City Superintendent Stephen Murley said. “And the more kids you have take it, the greater the likelihood is that you’re having students participate from categories of kids who weren’t taking it in the past.”

Students with college-educated parents, for example, are more likely to opt to take the ACT, he said.

Increasing the number of students taking the test, Murley said, means “those were kids that weren’t taking it in the past — and yet, we’re keeping our average up.”

With 62 more Iowa City graduating students who took the test this year than last year, scores in the district still jumped by 0.3 points.

Nationally, a record high number — nearly 2.1 million — of graduating seniors took the ACT during their junior or senior year of high school. That’s up from more than 1.9 million in 2015. ACT officials said the high number of participating students was a driving factor in an overall decline in achievement levels.

This year’s 20.8 average score is down from last year’s average of 21. Iowa’s average score also dipped from 22.2 in 2015 to to 22.1 this year.

“This year’s ACT-tested class is more representative of the student population than any we’ve ever had,” ACT Chief Executive Officer Marten Roorda said in a statement. “We have likely added many more underrepresented students who may not have been preparing to go to college. In a situation such as this, it’s not at all surprising that overall achievement levels went down.”

In Iowa, 73 percent of test takers met college readiness benchmarks for English, 55 percent for reading, 48 percent for math and 46 percent for science. About 32 percent met benchmarks for all four subjects — 6 percent more than the national average.

Students who meet those benchmarks are more likely to succeed in earning a college degree, ACT research shows.

“By getting through this process, by taking the ACT, students have one of those keys to get them into college,” Murley said. “We know that they have a much greater likelihood of being successful in life if they get that postsecondary education.”

Students in Massachusetts, 28 percent of which took the ACT, earned the highest average score of 24.8. The lowest average score of 17.7 was in Nevada, where 100 percent of students were tested.

And in case you’re wondering, 2,235 students nationwide earned a perfect score this year, up from 1,598 in 2015, according to ACT officials. In Iowa, 10 students scored a 36.

Give us feedback

Have you found an error or omission in our reporting? Tell us here.
Do you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.