ACT scores: Number of Georgia test takers rises; average score falls a tad

From state DOE today in response to the release of national ACT scores. The ACT is a college admissions test that is gaining ground in the South. Today, nearly half of Georgia graduating high school seniors take the ACT, often along with the SAT.

According to the 2011 ACT report, Georgia high school students improved in a number of areas on the ACT, even while the number of students tested increased from 44% in 2010 to 47% in 2011. Some of the student gains include the following: more High School Seniors demonstrating college readiness, key demographic sub-groups outperforming the national average, and improvements in 8th and 10th grade student assessments of college readiness.

College Readiness

The report reveals that more of Georgia’s students (9,015 in 2011, compared to 8,282 in 2010) demonstrated college and career readiness this year in all four areas (English, reading, mathematics, and science) of the test. Nationally, 25 percent of ACT test-takers demonstrated college readiness.

“These findings show more of our students are college and career ready,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “But, we still must close the gap with the national average because our students will be competing for entry into college and for jobs with students from all over the country, not just students from Georgia.”

The ACT College Readiness Benchmarks are based on the actual grades earned by students in college, define college and career readiness, and report student performance results relative to that goal.

ACT Composite Scores

Forty-seven (47) percent of Georgia’s 2011 graduating seniors (42,929 students) took the ACT and had an average composite score of 20.6. This average is down .1 percentage point from last year’s 20.7 and .5 percentage point less than the national average of 21.1.

“Typically when you see a significant increase in the number of students taking a test you have a greater decline in the overall results,” said Superintendent Barge. “Fortunately we didn’t see a dramatic decrease, but I believe any decrease is the wrong direction. As we develop our Career Pathways I am confident we will be able to provide the relevance in our courses that is necessary to give students the skills needed for success in college and careers, and also be able to perform well on college entrance exams like the ACT.”

Superintendent Barge pointed out that when the scores are broken down by race, Georgia students are outperforming the national average across the board. According to the 2011 ACT report, African American students had an average composite score of 17.5, higher than the national average of 17.0. Hispanic students had an average composite score of 20.1, higher than the national average of 18.7. White students had an average composite score of 22.8, higher than the national average of 22.4.

“One of the greatest highlights of the ACT report is seen with our subgroup performance,” said Superintendent Barge. “I’m pleased that key sub-groups of Georgia students are outperforming the national averages when comparing scores.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

17 comments Add your comment


August 17th, 2011
10:31 am

“According to the 2011 ACT report, African American students had an average composite score of 17.5, higher than the national average of 17.0. Hispanic students had an average composite score of 20.1, higher than the national average of 18.7. White students had an average composite score of 22.8, higher than the national average of 22.4.”

Another day, another academic measure that follows a predictable pattern with a direct correlation to IQ.


August 17th, 2011
10:37 am

No worries.

In the past in Georgia only savy parents had their child take the ACT. For some students (my older daughter and son) it is advantageous because their math isn’t particularly strong, and on the SAT the math counts more of the total. For others (my younger daughter) with very strong math skills, it makes more sense to go with the SAT.

Now, with word getting around, more parents are having their kids take it, thus the regression toward the group mean. (not sure if that is the correct statistical term but it is close).

Ask this question

August 17th, 2011
10:50 am

Lee you are an idiot. IQ scores has absolutely nothing to do with achievement. The ACT is an achievement test, not an IQ test

Ask this question

August 17th, 2011
10:55 am

Certainly intelligence is one of the factors leading to a high or low score. Both do measure what you learned in school although it is usually assumed that most college prep students learned all the concepts presented on the test. They also measure how well you take multiple choice tests and test prep services gives one an advantage. They are also relatively long tests so they measure ones attention span and mental endurance. Since the ACT does not take away extra points for guessing, luck could also be a factor on that test. Some students also take the test several times, which favors richer students who can afford the registration fees.
Yes, I don’t think that I received as high of score as I should have based on how I scored on other standarized tests and my gifted program screening evaluations. I took it once, received no test prep, and did significantly better on the first sections than the last sections due to mental fatigue and a waning attention span. It was high enough though to get accepted to 3 top tier national liberal arts colleges. I might have had an outside chance to get into the very best colleges because of my athletic achievements, high GPA, 6 A’s at a local college, lots of other activities, and economic and school district disadvantage. I considered it good enough.
Now that I am out of college. It doesn’t really matter at all. I have been asked for my college transcripts once by a potential employer, but never my SAT scores.

Ask this question

August 17th, 2011
11:01 am

how about Asian Students, they score higher than white students, so did African American students from educated household and many other sub groups. Whats your point except be typical racist

Bruce Kendall

August 17th, 2011
11:05 am

After much thought and consideration I completely disagree with Superintendent Barge and any educator who would now make this statement:

“Typically when you see a significant increase in the number of students taking a test you have a greater decline in the overall results.”

One, we changed our curriculum from one that was ranked almost last to one that is ranked in the top five.

Two, Georgia students, according to our Georgia Department of education are demonstrating increased learning, based on end of course tests and high school graduation tests.

If what students have to learn is considered among the best in the nation, and students demonstrate in record numbers that they are mastering course content.

Then explain why ACT scores are not on the rise, even with the increased number of better educated students?

The argument of a decline of results is true when all other factors remain the same.

But when you supposedly have better qualified, better trained, better prepared students, the result should be an improvement in test scores.

This has been true in every teaching experience I have been involved with. Then why is it not true here in Georgia?

Inman Park Boy

August 17th, 2011
11:28 am

So we don’t even DAREr ask, is that the deal?


August 17th, 2011
11:57 am

“The ACT is an achievement test, not an IQ test.”

“Certainly intelligence is one of the factors leading to a high or low score.”

Keep talking. So you agree that INTELLIGENCE is one of the factors. Sounds like you’re closer to my point of view than you think.

Jerry Eads

August 18th, 2011
8:40 am

“Resident test expert” here — 2 things:

1. As # takers goes up, the average score will decrease. The ACT tends to be taken by strong students whose higher education inerests lie outside Georgia at very selective schools requiring that test. While there may be any number of reasons WHY more people are taking the ACT, it is virtually certain that the tendency will be for less able students to join the pool – hence a lower average score.

2. Some of you still seem to be conned into thinking we have a remote clue what we’re doing making tests. We are NOT anywhere near good enough to neatly separate “intelligence” – what someone brings to the table via their genes – from “achievement” – that which teachers (and student motivation) provided a student – from “nurture” – that which the student’s upbringing provided them outside of school. We work very hard to separate the three, but the fact is there’s just no nifty way to carve them apart. SO, ANY test score – or pass rate, just to do one more reminder that using “scores” from the state’s minimum competency tests is a gross misuse of data – is made up of all three components. We may be able to spin the focus of the test a bit toward one of the components, but we simply do not know how to separate them cleanly.

math lesson please

August 18th, 2011
8:50 am

So, is it possible to have the overall average lower than the national average, but sub-groups are scoring better than the national average? I need a math lesson here.

Struggling Teacher

August 18th, 2011
9:10 am

And my school cancelled a college prep SAT/Act/Standardized elective class because it wasn’t doing any good! Our scores were the best in the region! Why stop when apparently the class is doing something positive??


August 18th, 2011
11:34 am

re math lesson please: there are substantially more african-american students taking the test in georgia relative to other states, and their lower average score drags down the overall state average.

Jerry Eads

August 18th, 2011
4:13 pm

@math lesson: yes. Scores for some groups could actually be very high, while others very low. Large low performing groups would affect the average more than smaller high performing groups.

Good Mother

August 18th, 2011
9:03 pm

I think it is very telling that we as Georgians are always having to constantly look for reasons to explain low test scores compared to x, y or z State. More students take the test than other states so that must be the reason or some other reason.

There is a constant “explanation,” an excuse.

I have yet to hear any single educator or administrator take blame for anything.

One teacher poster on another blog actually claimed that parents and guardians were 100% responsible for their children’s education — even when their children attended private school.

We’ve got to look at accountability and demand our public schools take responsibility for poor performance.

As a parent, I take complete responsibility to ensure my children are fed, dressed, well-rested and arrive on time with their homework complete.

I dug deep in my pockets to hire an after school babysitter to take them home, give them a nap and help them with homework.

But I can only do so much.

When the teacher uses poor grammar when she speaks to my children, she is teaching them bad language that will likely be ingrained forever.

Our children deserve better. Let’s please take this opportunity to demand Beverly Hall and all of her corrupt cronies are run out of office and given their just rewards — jail.

math lesson please

August 18th, 2011
10:17 pm

Thank you.

So, what should Georgia do? Discourage black and latino students to take the ACT? Encourage more blacks and latinos in other states to take the test? What exactly is the problem in GA schools?

To Math Lesson Please from GM

August 19th, 2011
5:29 pm

A very serious response to your question “What exactly is the problem in GA schools?

It starts at home with reading to children. Poor whites read to their children more than poor blacks and more than middle class blacks. We need to ensure that children are read to often and early. For example, go to where the kids are before they go to school and read to them — laundry mats for example and spend more money up front for GA Pre-K, an overall effective program funded by the lottery.

When those students don’t get what they needed before they got to school, the school needs to buckle down and read to them during the school day and in after care. Perhaps we should require students to be read to at any facility just as if we require them to have safe hand-washing stations.

Another idea — instead of teachers sending the kids to the library while they do their “planning” they should be in the library reading to the students, showing them the joys of reading, encouraging them to check out and look at the books instead of allowing them to line up for the computers to play video games like Pokemon.

Fund Music instead of organized sports. I dont’ mean to eliminate physical education but instead of football, fund the orchestra and piano lessons.

There is a direct link between music and math. When you perform welll in music, it helps you learn math. The Asians kick our butts in math. They are also excellent violinists and pianists. Asian parent know that is key to educatoinal success.

So while Jamal can score the winning touch-down, Xiating is scoring the winning concert and blowing away the bell curve.

I haven’t studied or researched as much about Latino families but from what I’ve read, Latino families value hard labor. So while they talk about how learnign is important, what the actually do with their time is physical labor, not learning.

I hope that answers your question just a wee bit.

Good Mother


August 20th, 2011
11:46 pm

To Ask this question

According to this publication, ACT scores can be used to accurately predict IQ in the general population.