South Carolina Class of 2019 Shows Improvement on ACT

Staff Report From South Carolina CEO

Friday, November 1st, 2019

The ACT released assessment data for 2019 South Carolina high school graduates who took the ACT test. South Carolina public school graduates' average composite score increased from 18.0 in 2018 to 18.6 in 2019. Additionally, 24% of graduates met three or four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks up from 21% in 2018.

The ACT report represents 33,834 South Carolina public school students who took the ACT test, which is no longer required but is paid for by the state and administered either during a designated school day or on Saturday.

"Despite the national decline illustrated in ACT's College and Career Readiness report, South Carolina made significant gains from 2018," said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. "While we no longer require schools to administer the ACT to every student, we are still seeing a large portion of students taking college readiness exams without having the proper coursework to be successful. We must do a better job of making students and parents aware of the impact a challenging course schedule has on their chance for success on these assessment while continuing to raise expectations and rigor in the classroom for all students."

Nationally, the percentages of graduates meeting the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in math and English are the lowest they have been in 15 years. According to ACT, the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks are scores that represent the level of achievement required for students to have a 50% chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75% chance of obtaining a C or higher in corresponding credit-bearing courses.

In South Carolina and in the nation, taking the proper coursework in high school dramatically increases a student’s likelihood for success on the ACT. South Carolina students taking the ACT recommended core curriculum, who accounted for 56% of test takers, had an average composite of 19.7 compared to 17.1 for students who did not take the core curriculum.

Additional Trends and Observations

Data shows that in South Carolina, 10,193 of the 2019 graduates ( 28% ) taking the ACT two or more times had an average composite score of 21.4 , compared to an average of 17.8 for 26,237 of the 2018 graduates ( 72% ) who took the ACT only once.

54 % of the 93,433 score reports sent to colleges by 2018 South Carolina ACT-tested graduates were sent to in-state public colleges. The top five in-state schools to which scores were sent were the University of South Carolina (Columbia), Clemson University, the College of Charleston, Coastal Carolina University, and Winthrop University.

In the South Carolina graduating class of 2019, 1,635 ( 4% ) indicated they planned on majoring in education. They had an average composite score of 18.8 .

Data shows that historically underserved learners' college readiness levels continue to lag behind their peers both in the state and across the nation. Only 3% of African American students met all four of ACT's College Readiness Benchmarks in 2019, a 1% increase from 2018.