Hamilton, other TN counties fall behind in ACT scores - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Hamilton, other TN counties fall behind in ACT scores

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By David Carroll

dcarroll@wrcbtv.com

(WRCB)- After several years of holding steady, Tennessee fell behind nearby states and well below the national average in ACT scores, which measure college readiness.  Most Tennessee counties in southeast Tennessee also lost ground in ACT scores.

In the 2010 report, released Wednesday, Tennessee scored  19.6, compared to 21.0 for the nation.  This represents the drop of a full percentage point from 2009.  From 2006 to 2008, Tennessee scored 20.7, dropping slightly to 20.6 in 2009.

Alabama held steady at 20.3, while Georgia increased slightly from 20.6 to 20.7. Nationally, only Kentucky, Mississippi and Florida are below Tennessee.

Math is a glaring trouble spot for Tennessee students.  The statewide math score for 11th and 12th graders is 19.0.  ACT considers 22.0 to be the benchmark for "college coursework readiness" in math.  Reading was Tennessee's best score at 19.9, also below the minimum.

Locally, Hamilton County dropped from 19.0 to 18.6.  Other Tennessee districts, and their ACT numbers from 2009 to 2010:  Bledsoe County dropped from 19.6 to 17.7; Bradley County dropped from 20.5 to 18.9; Cleveland City from 21.7 to 20.0; Marion County from 20.1 to 18.4; Meigs County 19.9 to 19.0; and Sequatchie County fell from 20.4 to 17.4. Many of the districts with falling test scores said an increase in the number of students taking the ACT was a major contributing factor.

In Georgia: Catoosa County stayed even from 2009 to 2010 at 21.0; Chickamauga City increased from 20.0 to 20.3; Dade County increased slightly from 20.8 to 21.0; Dalton went up from 21.5 to 21.7; and Walker County fell from 19.8 to 19.4.

Other area counties will be added to this list as they respond to our request for information.

The minimum ACT® test scores that indicate whether high school graduates are likely ready for entry-level college coursework are:
English = 18
Mathematics = 22
Reading = 21
Science = 24

In the past five years, participation in the ACT in Michigan, Kentucky, Wyoming and Tennessee has risen to include virtually all graduates, rather than only college-bound students. By comparison, 78 percent of Alabama graduates took the ACT, and 44 percent of Georgia students took the ACT.

Twenty-four percent of ACT-tested 2010 high school graduates met or surpassed all four of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, up from 21 percent in 2006 and from 23 percent last year. The percent of graduates ready to succeed in college coursework remains highest in English (66 percent), followed by reading (52 percent), mathematics (43 percent) and science (29 percent).

The ACT report also indicates there is substantial room for improvement in college and career readiness. Among 2010 ACT-tested graduates, a combined total of 43 percent met either none (28 percent) or only one (15 percent) of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks. Those students are likely lacking many of the skills needed to be ready to succeed in credit-bearing first-year college courses and in workforce training programs this fall.

The ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, which are based on the actual grades earned by students in college, give ACT the unique ability to define college and career readiness and report student performance results relative to that goal. The benchmarks specify the minimum scores needed on each ACT subject-area test to indicate that a student has a 50 percent chance of earning a grade of B or higher or about a 75 percent chance of earning a C or higher in a typical credit-bearing first-year college course in that subject area (English composition, college algebra, introductory social science and biology).


The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement test that measures the skills and knowledge taught in high school that are deemed essential for college and career readiness.

The national average composite score this year was 21.0, down slightly from 21.1 in three of the past five years. The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score.

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