ACT scores are slightly up this year in Tennessee, boosting the state from its two-year trend of showing the second-worst average performance in the nation to one spot higher: third-worst.
The average score for high school graduates taking the test in 2013 was 19.3 out of 36, enough for a ranking of 47 among the nation's 50 states. The figure was up one-tenth of a percent from last year's average score of 19.2 and also higher than the 19.0 average recorded by Tennessee students in 2011.
Despite its lowness, the figure merits explanation.
Since 2010, Tennessee has been one of only nine states to require 100 percent of graduating students to take the ACT, regardless of their plans following the completion of high school. This year, 69,641 graduates took the test statewide.
Most states requiring 100 percent of graduates scored on the lower end of the spectrum. The highest state with the requirement, Utah, posted an average score of 20.7, enough to give the state a 31st-place ranking out of 50 nationwide.
The state showing the highest average score, Massachusetts, administered the test to only 22 percent of graduates.
Kevin Huffman, education commissioner for Tennessee, said he was pleased to see the slight growth but added that the results indicated the continuing need for reforms across the state.
"While small incremental gains are positive, we must work toward larger growth for Tennessee students," Huffman said in a news release. "Far too many students in our state graduate without the knowledge they need for college or the job market. We are implementing education reforms designed to address these deficiencies and drive continuous improvement."
Huffman also cited concerns over the disparity of scores between racial demographics in Tennessee. Only 3 percent of black students and 10 percent of Hispanics achieved benchmarks in all four of the test's core areas, while 19 percent of white students and 31 percent of Asian students met standards.
To view a state-by-state breakdown of results, click here.
To view a summary of Tennessee's performance, click here.
For a detailed report of Tennessee test scores, click here.
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