BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s statewide average score on the ACT college entrance exam fell for the third consecutive year and has reached its lowest level since 2013, setting off alarm bells for education leaders.
The Advocate reports the state’s latest average composite score is 18.7 out of a possible 36 for the class of 2020. That’s down from 18.9 last year and 19.3 in 2018.
Louisiana is tied with Oklahoma for 47th in the nation on the exam that measures what students know in math, English, reading and science. The composite national average is 20.6.
“What that means is students aren’t getting into the colleges they choose,” state Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley said. “I think it is something we need to look at and how we flip that trajectory.”
Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed also voiced concerns.
“While ACT scores are not mandated for college acceptance in Louisiana, this year’s scores are a clear mandate to us to do better in preparing all students,” Reed said in a statement.
Louisiana’s results show that only 22% of test-takers met the national benchmarks in math; 24% in science; 31% in reading and 49% in English.
The ACT is part of the criteria for students to receive free tuition through Louisiana’s TOPS program. More than 53,000 students took the test earlier this year. In 2013, Louisiana began requiring all high school seniors to take the test, rather than just those who plan to attend college.
Both the ACT and SAT college entrance exams have come under fire nationally amid criticism that the exams discriminate against minority students. Some top colleges have ended the requirement that students earn a certain score on the tests to be admitted.