ACT scores down again in Iowa

Math results show less than half are college-ready

An ACT sign signals the entrance to the ACT campus in Iowa City on Thursday, July 30, 2015. ¬ (KC McGinnis / The Gazette)
An ACT sign signals the entrance to the ACT campus in Iowa City on Thursday, July 30, 2015. ¬ (KC McGinnis / The Gazette)

Iowa high school students’ scores on the ACT have dropped for the third year in a row, according to data released by the Iowa City-based testing giant.

Additionally, fewer of this year’s high school graduates are considered ready for college than in recent years, the Condition of College and Career Readiness 2018 report shows.

Students who took the ACT averaged a comprehensive score of 21.8 out of 36 on the ACT last year. About 68 percent of high school students took the ACT.

The national average score was 20.8.

“The scores and readiness levels (in Iowa) remain significantly higher than the national average, which is good,” ACT spokesman Ed Colby said. “But they have slipped and are trending down, particularly in math and English.”

Since 2014, the percentage of Iowa students meeting math benchmarks has dropped from 48 to 44 percent.

The number of students meeting English goals has also dropped significantly, from 75 to 70 percent.

“These findings mirror the national results to a large extent,” Colby said.

Nationwide, only 40 percent of 2018 high school graduates who took the ACT would be considered ready for college-level math — the lowest point in 14 years, according to an ACT news release.

Average scores on the ACT’s math section have gradually declined since 2012, after seeing steady growth beginning in 2000.


Similarly, the percentage of U.S. students ready for college-level English classes is at an all-time low of 60 percent.

“Policymakers and educators must take strong, swift actions to reverse this course,” according to the report.

To better prepare students, ACT recommends increased school funding, early assessment and intervention, equitable resources for underserved students, a holistic approach to education and the responsible use of assessment data.

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