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Declining ACT scores raise college readiness concerns

Earlier coverage

Oklahoma schools prepare for major ACT changes


Oklahoma high school graduates’ scores on the ACT college-readiness exam declined in every subject this year, according to a report released Wednesday.

Most colleges use ACT or SAT scores as part of admissions requirements.

Statewide, the average composite score was 18.9, out of a possible 36. That represents a drop of 0.4 point compared to 2018. Reading and math scores each dipped 0.5 point, to 19.6 and 18.3.

Oklahoma is one of 15 states that tested 100% of its 2019 high school graduates. Among those states, Oklahoma’s average composite ranked 12th. Louisiana, Mississippi and Nevada posted lower scores.

Another worrisome trend in the report is the rising proportion of Oklahoma students who failed to meet any of the ACT’s college-readiness benchmarks, which are set for each of the four subjects. (ACT considers these “college ready” scores: 18 in English, 22 in social studies and math, and 23 in science.)

This year, 46% of students met no benchmark, compared to 43% in 2018 and 31% in 2015. Nationally, 36% did not meet any of the four benchmarks.

U.S. students’ average composite score was 20.7, a decrease of 0.1 point compared to 2018.

Students who took the recommended four years of English and three years each of math, science and social studies outperformed students who did not, according to ACT.

Since 2017, the state has funded and required all 11th-grade students to take either the ACT or SAT, an effort led by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. That increased the number of students taking the exam and resulted in an expected drop in average scores. But education officials say the initiative has benefits, such as saving students money and improving college accessibility.

The data in the report are based on 2019 graduates who took the ACT during high school.

“Oklahoma Watch, at, is a a nonprofit media organization that covers significant public policy issues facing the state.”

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