Ohio ACT Scores Fell Below National Average in 2018, New Report Finds


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ACT math scores hit a 14-year low across the United States this year, and Ohio students have dropped below the national average.

Since 1959, the ACT entrance exam has been used by most colleges alongside or in place of the SAT exam to determine things like university acceptance and academic scholarships. The highest score possible is a 36, earned by excelling in English, reading, math, science and an optional writing exam.

This year, more than 1.9 million graduating students took the ACT — more than half of the eligible graduating class of 2018. The average ACT score this year was a 20.8, down .2 points from 21 in 2017. As for Ohio, students dropped to a 20.3 average, compared to last year's composite score of 22.

Unfortunately, this means the average ACT score for this year's graduating class isn't high enough to guarantee acceptance into most Ohio schools of higher education. According to Prep Scholar, the average ACT score of a student attending Ohio State University is a 29, Ohio University averages a 24, Kent State averages a 23 and Cleveland State University is a 22.

Of course, this doesn't mean that students with a lower ACT score are automatically rejected as factors like GPA, admissions essays and extra-curricular activities also play a part in college acceptance, but it's concerning that the average Ohio student is below the average requirements to continue their education post-high school.

The ACT, like most standardized tests, is imperfect, as the Washington Post reported based on an independent analysis that showed two of the four subject tests were basically useless in forecasting achievement in post-secondary education.

However, the biggest drop in performance came on the math section of the ACT, with only about 40 percent of 2018 graduates meeting the College Readiness Benchmark in math, according to the ACT itself. In Ohio, only 38 percent hit the bar.

Failing math scores appear to line up with the implementation of the Obama-era "common core," perhaps contributing to the declining scores. Ohio State Rep. Andrew Thompson told the Western Journal that Common Core seemed to be “a significant factor.”

The ACT report also shows that college readiness levels remained extremely low overall for underserved learners (low-income, minority, and/or first generation college students), who make up 43 percent of all ACT-tested graduates.

“Underserved students often face obstacles that their peers do not,” said ACT CEO Marten Roorda in a press release. “We must work hard to ensure they have equal access to a quality education, including challenging courses that focus on college-ready skills and planning resources to help them create a pathway to success. ACT is focused on improving equity through our Center for Equity in Learning and other efforts.”

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