ACT scores up in state; SAT down in Bartow
by Mark Andrews
Sep 12, 2012 | 951 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
According to a report from the Georgia Department of Education, Georgia high school students saw a small increase this year on ACT results while the nation’s rate showed no change. While ACT scores on the district level will not be released until Sept. 24, Bartow County Director of Secondary Curriculum Jim Gottwalt said local scores from another college proficiency test, the SAT, dropped this year.

“Our SAT scores dropped from 1458, which they were pretty consistant at 1458, 1460, the two years before ... all the way down to 1373,” Gottwalt said.

A perfect score on the SAT is 2400, and in most cases, students can take either test for college entry.

“A lot of people don’t understand in Georgia and across the nation, it doesn’t make any difference whether you take the ACT or SAT, 99 percent of colleges will take both,” Gottwalt said. “The difference is, the ACT measures students on what they learned in particular subjects, the SAT is more global and deals with aptitude and verbal and reasoning skills.”

Statewide, one-year increases were seen in the composite scores (+0.1), reading (+0.2) and science (+0.2). English results were flat and math results decreased slightly (-0.1). Overall results in Georgia increased this year even as the number of students tested increased from 47 percent in 2011 to 52 percent in 2012.

“I am pleased to see our students’ scores headed in the right direction and the gap closing between Georgia and the national average,” State School Superintendent John Barge said in a press release. “I think it is significant that our participation rate on the ACT increased considerably and we still have growth in overall scores.”

ACT Composite Scores

Fifty-two percent of Georgia’s 2012 graduating seniors — 47,169 students — took the ACT and had an average composite score of 20.7. This average is up .1 percentage point from last year’s 20.6 and .4 percentage point less than the national average of 21.1.

Georgia students also are outperforming the national average when scores are broken down by race. The 2012 ACT report shows that African-American students had an average composite score of 17.6, considerably higher than the national average of 17.0. Hispanic students had an average composite score of 19.9, a full point higher than the national average of 18.9. White students had an average composite score of 22.8, .4 percentage point higher than the national average of 22.4.

“It’s clear from this report that we outperform the national average when our results are broken out by subgroup,” Barge said. “However, we still have gaps between subgroups that we must address. If we’re going to close the gap with the nation then we must close the achievement gap between our subgroups.”

College Readiness

The report reveals that more of Georgia’s students — 10,377 in 2012 compared to 9,015 in 2011 — demonstrated college and career readiness this year in all four areas (English, reading, mathematics and science) of the test.

“I’m very pleased that more of our students are demonstrating college and career readiness,” Barge said. “As we implement the Career Pathways initiative, I believe students will begin seeing more relevance in courses they are taking, which will translate into an even higher percentage of our students scoring at college and career ready levels.”

The ACT College Readiness Benchmarks are based on the actual grades earned by students in college, define college and career readiness, and report student performance results relative to that goal.

“Our ACT scores I think reflect the national average, at least the national trend and the state trend, and if they stay within the same ballpark with luck we’ll get our average to 20 or 21, but that’s going to take a lot of work,” Gottwalt said. “[Students have scored] 19.9, 19.8 for the last four years.”