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MDE says ACT scores dropped in 2018

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The Mississippi Department of Education recently released the ACT results for the spring 2018 statewide administration of the ACT to all high school juniors.

The average score among juniors decreased from 18 in 2017 to 17.8 in 2018. Eight districts achieved an average composite of 20.0 or higher compared to 14 in 2017.

Since 2015, the Mississippi Legislature has appropriated approximately $1 million annually for public schools to administer the ACT to all high school juniors. Annual average scores for juniors have ranged from 17.6 to 18.3.

ACT scores for the graduating class of 2018 were released nationally in October, which showed the average composite score among Mississippi’s graduating class of 2018 remained steady at 18.6 from 2017 to 2018. The national average ACT score for the class of 2018 dropped to 20.8 from 21 in 2017.

The percentage of 2018 Mississippi graduates meeting the benchmark scores for all four tested ACT subjects remained flat at 12 percent, and the percentage decreased among juniors from 10 percent in 2017 to 9 percent in 2018.

“The 11th grade ACT administration measures college-readiness at a crucial time in high school when there is still time to provide interventions to improve achievement,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education.“ACT research shows that taking certain specific courses in high school substantially increases students’ readiness for college level work as well as their readiness for workforce training programs.”

Students who take four or more years of English and three or more years each of math, social studies and natural science typically outperform their peers who report taking fewer courses in these subjects.

Through a partnership with the Mississippi Department of Education and the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), a group of pilot districts have been offering specialized literacy and math courses to high school seniors on the cusp of meeting the ACT benchmark scores. Starting in the 2018-19 school year, all districts are required to offer the specialized classes, the Essentials for College Literacy and the Essentials for College Math.

The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning and Mississippi community colleges allow students who earn a grade of 80 percent or higher in the specialized classes to enter credit-bearing courses when they start college.

The MDE provides districts with training related to analyzing ACT data, evaluating course taking patterns and designing ACT preparation courses.

View school- and district-level ACT results for juniors at

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