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Georgia sees steady ACT scores, while nation drops

ATLANTA — Georgia high school students’ scores on the ACT college entrance exam held steady this year, even as record numbers took the test, officials said Wednesday.

The state’s average composite score for public and private high school students was 20.7 out of a possible 36 points, the same as last year. Officials said the national average dropped from 21.1 to 20.9, which narrowed the gap between the state and the nation to 0.2 percentage points.

Georgia test-takers equaled the national average in English and reading with scores averaging 20.2 and 21.2 respectively, according to data from ACT. The state lagged behind in the two other test areas, scoring an average 20.3 in math and 20.5 in science. The national average is 20.9 in math and 20.7 in science.

State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge said in a statement released this week that he is proud of the gains students have made versus the national averages on the ACT.

“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,” he said. “We are headed in the right direction.”

Officials pointed out that the state’s composite score is also up from 20.6 recorded in 2011, when there were more than 5,500 fewer Georgia students taking the ACT. About 51 percent, or 48,505 students, took the ACT in the spring.

The ACT also reported that students who took four or more years of English and three or more years of math, social studies and natural science were more likely to score higher than their peers who did not — they scored more than 2 points higher on average in each subject and 2.5 points higher in composite scores.

The report revealed 23 percent compared to the nation’s 26 percent demonstrated college and career readiness this year in all four subject areas, up 1 percentage point from 2012. Readiness by subject area: English (64 percent), mathematics (38 percent), science (33 percent) and reading (43 percent).

Officials said 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.

“As we implement the Career Pathways/Clusters initiative, I believe students will see more relevance in courses they are taking and will be more engaged in their academic careers,” said Barge. “That will translate into an even larger number of students being ready for college and careers.”