Georgia students’ ACT scores rise

After enduring years of ridicule for scoring near the bottom on the SAT test, Georgia can finally take comfort from this: the state has inched its way up to the middle of the pack on that other big pre-college test, the ACT.

New results show Georgia’s average composite score rising 0.2 points to 21.0, finally equalling the national composite score.

“These results are a testament to the hard work of our teachers. I think we’ll continue to see gains as we realign our focus and implement child-focused, classroom-centered policies,” state Superintendent Richard Woods said in a statement.

Woods noted that Georgia outpaced most other Southern states and that minorities outperformed their peers nationally. African Americans had an average composite score of 17.8, 0.7 points higher than the national average; Hispanics and Latinos in the state earned a 20.1 score versus 18.9 nationally.

Georgia posted these gains despite the increasing number taking the ACT. As the more popular in Georgia SAT has demonstrated, a higher participation rate tends to drag down scores, since not only the best and most accomplished are taking the test.

About three quarters of Georgia’s seniors have taken the SAT in recent years, producing scores far below states where the participation rate was in the single digits.

Participation in the ACT has historically been much lower, but that gap is closing.

A total of 54,653 students took the test in 2015, up from 42,929 in 2011. The participation rate rose to 58 percent from 47 percent during that period.

Perhaps surprising given the growth in participation, the state’s average composite score has risen 0.4 points since 2011.

The national score is the same this year as it was in 2011, but participation has followed a similar trend to Georgia, rising from 49 percent to 59 percent.

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