ACT Scoring By State Revisited

I received a thoughtful comment about my last blog post on ACT scores.  It’s from my friend Tricia Carpenter, a former Talented and Gifted Advisor at Platt Middle School in Boulder.  Tricia writes:

I saw your ACT article on your blog. Kudos to FHS! But hey, do you think the reason thatColorado’s scores are lower than most other states IS because we have 100% of the juniors take the test, whereas most other states do not? That would explain it [why Colorado lags the national average], wouldn’t it? So, in addition to the college-bound students who typically take the ACT, you also have the scores of the non-college bound juniors who would otherwise not be taking the ACT mixed in, thereby lowering our state’s average score? So it’s not really a fair comparison, to compare Colorado’s statewide average score with the scores of states who do not require 100% of their juniors to take the ACT?

Excellent observation Tricia.  I revisited the 2011 data on each state’s scores paying attention to how many students take the ACT in each state.  Only eight states nationally require 100% of the juniors take the ACT.  Maine has the lowest participation with only 9% (their scores rank 5th overall) while 13 states have less than one-quarter of their high school juniors taking the ACT.

States With 100% Of High School Juniors Taking ACT

If we compare Colorado students only with the eight states that have 100% participation, Colorado does well – a close second to Illinois (20.9 to 20.7).  The average score of these eight states is 19.9.  Mississippi has the lowest ACT scores, whether it’s with these eight states or the entire 51 states and D.C., at 18.7.

It’s easy to spin ACT scores different ways.  But I’m happy that Fairview High School and Boulder Valley School District do well, as I pointed out in the previous blog post.  (Note: 2011 state-by-state ACT scores have been removed from the ACT web site since this blog was written).


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