Declining state ACT scores

Numbers are seen on a window from a teaching pod at Santa Fe South High School in Edmond. 

OKLAHOMA CITY — 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 points compared to 2018. Reading and math scores each dipped 0.5 points, 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 statewide met zero benchmarks, compared to 43% in 2018 and 31% in 2015. Nationally, 36% did not meet any of the four benchmarks.

Oklahoma Watch

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

According to Oklahoma State Department of Education, Enid High School seniors scored above the statewide average composite score, based on 2016 data, which is the latest available on the state department’s website. EHS seniors had a composite scored of 19.97. Chisholm High School seniors had an average composite score of 23.31.

Other Northwest Oklahoma schools and their composite averages were: Cherokee, 19.15; Timberlake, 18.6; Okeene, 20.79; Watonga, 19.67; Canton, 19.88; Waukomis, 18.76; Garber, 21.4; Pioneer, 19.6; Drummond, 21; Covington-Douglas, 17.79; Medford, 19.47; Pond Creek-Hunter, 21.5; Lomega, 19.91; Kingfisher, 20.04; Hennessey, 20; Ringwood, 21.13; Fairview, 21; Cimarron, 19.83; Alva, 20.86; Waynoka, 19.53; Woodward, 19.14; Mooreland, 20.68; and Sharon-Mutual, 16.53.

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.

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Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) corporation whose mission is to produce in-depth and investigative journalism on public-policy and quality-of-life issues facing the state.

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