ACT scores for Tooele County School District increased slightly in 2019 compared to 2018, but still remain below the state average.
The Tooele County School Board of Education heard a report from school district staff on the results of the ACT tests administered to high school juniors in 2019 during its meeting on Tuesday night at the school district office.
“This year’s data indicates that the percentage of students in the district overall meeting college readiness benchmarks has increased from last year,” said Debra Bushek, the school district’s director of assessment, accountability, and research.
The average composite ACT score for the school district’s juniors increased from 18.8 in 2018 to 19.1 in 2019.
The ACT test is designed to measure academic development in English, math, reading and science. Test scores are reported on a scale of one to 36, and the four test scores are averaged to reach a composite score.
ACT has established benchmark scores for each subject test that correspond to a prediction of success in college coursework.
A benchmark score is the minimum score needed on an ACT test that indicates a 50 percent chance of obtaining a “B” or higher, or a 75 percent chance of obtaining a “C” or higher in the corresponding college credit courses.
A minimum score of 18 on the English test is needed to be rated college-ready in English composition, a score of 22 on the math test translates to college readiness in algebra, a 22 on the reading test indicates college readiness in social science, and scoring at least a 23 on the science test means college readiness in biology.
Average ACT test scores for juniors in the school district in each subject area were higher in 2019 than they were in 2018, except for math, according to Bushek.
The 2019 average English test score for Tooele County juniors was 17.9 in 2019 compared to 17.7 in 2018. The average reading test score in 2019 was 19.9, in 2018 it was 19.2. The average science test score rose from 19.3 in 2018 to 19.5 in 2019.
“It’s nice to see a little uptick in the trend this year,” Bushek said.
The average math test score dropped from 18.6 in 2018 to 18.5 in 2019. Statewide the average math test score also dropped in 2019 — from 19.7 in 2018 to 19.3 in 2019.
Yearly fluctuations in test scores are normal, even expected, according to ACT.
In the last five years, the composite ACT test score for the school district ranged from 18.8 in 2018 to 19.4 in 2017.
ACT encourages educators to measure student performance in the context of college readiness measures. It is suggested the focus should be on the number and percentage of students who met or exceeded ACT’s college readiness benchmark scores, according to information on ACT’s website.
In 2019, 16% of the school district’s juniors met the college readiness benchmark on all four subject area tests compared to 20% statewide.
The state will use the percentage of students with an ACT composite score of 18 or better for its school accountability reports for this year, according to Bushek.
For the school district, 45% of the juniors that took the ACT test in 2019 received a composite score of 18 or higher. Statewide results of the 2019 ACT test are not currently available.
The state has funded the ACT test for all juniors as a way of measuring college and career preparedness since 2012. The state has also made the ACT’s online preparation program named “Shmoop” available to all Utah high school students.