ACT college entrance exam scores increased for South Carolina’s Class of 2013 public, private, and homeschooled students, according to data released by the company that offers the tests Wednesday.
The South Carolina all-students average composite score was 20.4 (out of 36), a gain of 0.2 points. That’s below the national average composite score for all students at 20.9. However, South Carolina bucked the national trend, which saw an average decline of 0.2 points.
“There are real students with real aspirations behind these statistics. Credit for these gains belongs to the students, parents, and teachers. Congratulations to these students for their hard work and perseverance,” State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais said in a statement.
The newly released state-level ACT scores are from students who graduated in 2013, regardless of when they took the test during their high school careers. Participation did decrease slightly in South Carolina by 274 students over last year.
Both the ACT and SAT are accepted by most colleges. The SAT has historically been more popular in South Carolina, but ACT participation has grown. Just over half of 2013 graduates took the ACT.
Gaps between South Carolina and the national average scores closed for the composite score and four subtests. The biggest gains were made on the ACT Reading subtest. 22 percent of of test takers met college-ready benchmarks in all four subjects of English, Math, Reading, and Science.
“While college admissions tests are imperfect indicators of school effectiveness, these assessments provide useful information about South Carolina students entering higher education,” Zais continued. “While nationwide assessments continue to show a reading gap between South Carolina and the nation, it is encouraging to see the gap is closing. We must continue to address reading gaps because reading is fundamental to everything else in a student’s education. If students cannot read, they will not succeed in school.”
The trends were not positive for all ethnic groups in South Carolina, however. The average ACT composite score for all white students increased by 0.1 points to 22.3 and Hispanic students by 0.3 points to 20.2. But the average composite score for all black students remained at 16.6 (no change), meaning the gap between white and black students increased slightly.
The South Carolina average composite score for public school students was 20.1, an increase of 0.2 points from 2011.
The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement exam designed to measure the academic skills that are taught in schools and is used as an indicator for success in first-year college courses. The SAT is an implied learning test that measures how students think based on their experiences both in and out of the classroom setting.