Georgia students show gains on ACT

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Georgia students show gains on ACT

More Georgia students are taking the ACT exam before college, yet the state’s scores are rising.

Normally, as with the SAT, higher rates of participation drag down scores. Indeed, that’s what happened nationally with the ACT.

Georgia, however, is bucking that trend, according to results released today by the Georgia Department of Education.

Average scores in the state rose across the board with the class of 2016 despite a more than 20 percent increase in the number of test takers since 2012.

“You would expect the average scores to go down, and we don’t see that in Georgia,” said Dana Rickman, researcher with the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education. “That’s actually pretty impressive.”

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More than 58,000 students in Georgia’s class of 2016 took the test, yet scores were up across the board, in English, reading, math and science. Nationally, STEM scores, which reflect math and science proficiency, dropped from an average of 21.3 to 20.9, yet in Georgia they rose, from 20.8 to 21.1.

The percent of students whose scores indicate they are ready for college-level coursework was higher in Georgia than the nation as a whole in English and in social science. Georgians matched the national performance in biology and lagged slightly in algebra.

Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and other minorities outperformed their national peers, as did whites.

The one group — and it’s half the population — that didn’t close gaps is females. Girls’ scores lagged those of boys in math and science by greater margins in Georgia than nationally while girls’ traditional lead in English and reading was smaller in this state than nationally.

The gaps were small but statistically significant, said Edward Colby, a spokesman for ACT. He said Georgia girls have narrowed the gap in science since 2012 but not in the other three subjects.

That, said Rickman, is disturbing, given the implications for careers and pay. “We’ve made progress,” she said, “but we need to keep pushing.”

The AJC has created the The Ultimate Atlanta School Guide that lets you look at and compare critical data for every school in Georgia. You can find it at schools.myajc.com/#/schools.

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