The US high school graduating class of 2022 had the lowest average ACT score in more than three decades, the organization behind the test said on Wednesday, noting the class also endured the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic for three academic years.
The ACT is a standardized exam used in college admissions and administered by a nonprofit with the same name. This year, the average ACT score was the lowest it’s been since 1991, the organization said in a news release.
And it’s the fifth year in a row that average scores have been going down, ACT CEO Janet Godwin said in a statement.
“The magnitude of the declines this year is particularly alarming, as we see rapidly growing numbers of seniors leaving high school without meeting the college-readiness benchmark in any of the subjects we measure,” Godwin said.
According to data released by ACT this week, more than 40% of 2022 high school graduates did not meet any of the ACT college readiness benchmarks, which include the subjects of English, reading, math and science.
But the declines aren’t solely because of the pandemic, but rather “evidence of longtime systemic failures that were exacerbated by the pandemic,” Godwin cautioned.
“A return to the pre-pandemic status quo would be insufficient and a disservice to students and educators. These systemic failures require sustained collective action and support for the academic recovery of high school students as an urgent national priority and imperative,” the CEO added.
CNN also reported last month that math and reading scores for 9-year-olds in the US also plummeted between 2020 and 2022, declining by a level not seen in decades. At the time, US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said those results were connected to the loss of in-person classroom time and said the country was in an education crisis.
But National Center for Education Statistics commissioner Peggy Carr had highlighted it wasn’t just the pandemic that caused learning disruptions for students.
“School shootings, violence, and classroom disruptions are up, as are teacher and staff vacancies, absenteeism, cyberbullying, and students’ use of mental health services. This information provides some important context for the results we’re seeing from the long-term trend assessment,” Carr said at the time.