SUWANEE — More students in Gwinnett and across the state took the ACT college entrance exam this year, and Gwinnett scores were slightly better than last year, according to data released on Wednesday.
The gap between the Georgia composite score and the national average narrowed to 0.2 percentage points, as the Georgia average was 20.7, the same as last year, and the national composite dropped from 21.1 to 20.9. In Gwinnett, the composite score rose to 22.0 from 21.9, as 4,369 students took the test, 178 more than last year.
“I am proud to see our students’ scores gain ground on the national average on this important test,” State School Superintendent John Barge said in a press release. “But we know there is much work to be done to ensure that every student is ready for college or a career when they graduate high school. We are headed in the right direction.”
The ACT is designed to measure college readiness and preparation. It is four separate exams in English, reading, mathematics and science and an optional writing portion. The exam is scored on a scale from zero to 36.
This year, Georgia students scored better on the English (+0.1) and reading (+0.2) portions of the exam, while the math score dipped by 0.3 of a percentage point. The science score remained the same.
In Gwinnett, scores were higher in English, reading and science, but math dropped from 22.6 to 22.4. Reading scores showed the most improvement, from 21.8 to 22.1.
The Georgia ACT score is up from 2011 when students saw a composite of 20.6, state Department of Education spokesman Matt Cardoza said. Since then, the number of students taking the test has increased by more than 5,500. Generally, scores on such tests decline when the pool of test takers increases. More than half of Georgia’s high school students – 51 percent, or 48,505 students — took the ACT in the spring, up from 47,169 last year, Cardoza said.
African-American and Hispanic students in Georgia also outperformed the nation on the ACT. The composite score for African-American students was 17.5, while the national average was 16.9. For Hispanic students, the Georgia composite score was 19.9, compared to the nation’s 18.8. White students in Georgia had an average composite score of 22.8, while the national average was 22.2.
Georgia high school graduates were also measured in college and career readiness benchmarks. Cardoza said 23 percent of Georgia graduates demonstrated college and career readiness, compared with 26 percent across the country. By subject area, Georgia graduates were 64 percent ready in English, 38 percent in math, 33 percent in science and 43 percent in reading.
The ACT College Readiness Benchmarks are based on the grades earned by students actively enrolled in college and help to define a high school student’s ACT performance relative to these benchmarks.