MN ACT Scores Drop With More Students Taking Test

Photo Credit: Eastern Kentucky University website

The results are in.

Test scores of the ACT college entrance exam in Minnesota dropped after the state required that high school juniors take the exam as part of statewide testing.

Despite the drop, Minnesota students still scored the highest on the test compared to other states. According to a press release from the Minnesota Department of Education, Minnesota led the 18 states where the test was provided to all students, with an average score of 21.1. The national average is 20.8.

Nearly all of Minnesota’s 2016 high school graduates took the ACT college entrance exam as a junior or senior.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that Minnesota’s average ACT score dropped from 22.7 the previous year, when 78 percent of college-bound students took the ACT. The drop was anticipated after juniors took the ACT test in spring of 2015 as part of the statewide testing program.  The highest test score possible on the ACT is a 36.  According to the website, an ACT score of 21 is slightly better than average. It places the student in approximately the 55th percentile nationally for all students who took the ACT.

More than 17,000 Minnesota students were added to the testing program, with the number of minority student groups increasing as well. Hispanic students had the biggest increase with 1,709 students.

Minnesota provided the ACT test to all juniors in the 2014-15 school year, at no cost to the families, putting the state in a different realm for comparison of students who have taken the test. Minnesota, in the past, had 74 to 78 percent of high school seniors taking the exam. By giving the test to more students, the hope was to help close the achievement gap that has plagued the Minnesota public education system.

In 2016, 64,145 students, an increase of 17,283 students over the class of 2015, took the exam.

Despite the state’s overall drop in score from last year, Brenda Cassellius, Minnesota’s Education Commissioner said that other states that had opened access to the ACT to more students had seen similar declines.

Cassellius said in a statement, “I will gladly celebrate greater equity and opportunity for Minnesota kids any day of the week.”

“We anticipated that our statewide average score might decrease as we opened up the ACT to all students, but we are opening doors and raising the bar for all kids, especially those we have left behind before.”

Only 29 percent of Minnesotans scored college-ready in the four measured subjects of English, reading, math and science; the national average was only 26 percent, the Department of Education reported. Minnesota’s highest college-readiness score was in English, with 61 percent, on par with the national average.


Donna Azarian