Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
For immediate release
Thursday, September 7, 2016
Contact: Jacqueline Reis 781-338-3115
Massachusetts Students’ ACT Scores among Best in Nation
MALDEN – Massachusetts high school students in the graduating class of 2017 had among the highest average composite scores in the nation on the ACT test, an annual predictive measure of college and career readiness for many high school graduates, according to results released today.
According to this year’s ACT results, Massachusetts 2017 public and private high school graduates who chose to take the ACT had an average composite score of 25.4 out of a possible 36, up from last year (24.8). The national average was 21, which was a slight increase from last year’s 20.8. In addition, 56 percent of Massachusetts graduates met all four ACT college readiness benchmarks, up from 53 percent last year and above the national average of 27 percent.
“We are proud to see Massachusetts students once again achieving one of the highest ACT scores in the nation,” Governor Charlie Baker said. “Our teachers and school administrators across the Commonwealth do an outstanding job preparing our students for college and careers, and it is reflected in these impressive results.”
“We are particularly pleased to see Massachusetts students had the highest percentage of 2017 graduates meeting the math benchmark, at 75 percent, and in science, 65 percent of Massachusetts students met the benchmark, which was the second highest in the nation,” Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito said. “We are confident that our continued focus on STEM education will boost these numbers even higher.”
While the majority of Massachusetts’ graduating seniors have historically taken the SAT, a growing number are taking the ACT. Students can choose to take both tests, either test or neither. Statewide, 20,935 public and private school students, or an estimated 29 percent of the 2017 graduating class, took the ACT during high school. Between 2013 and 2017, the number of ACT-taking graduates in Massachusetts grew by 30 percent.
“We are proud to see the state’s average score increase as participation also increases,” Education Secretary James Peyser said. “Congratulations to the students, teachers, and families who made this success possible.”
“I am particularly pleased that more than half of Massachusetts’ ACT takers met ACT’s college readiness benchmarks in English, math, reading and science and that the percentage meeting those benchmarks continues to grow,” Acting Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Wulfson said. “These students have a strong foundation for college.”
In addition to the state’s strong performance in the aggregate, all of the state’s largest racial and ethnic groups saw higher percentages meet all four ACT college readiness benchmarks compared to last year. The portion of Massachusetts students in the 2017 graduating class who met all four
benchmarks was 64 percent for Asian students (compared to 60 percent in 2016), 59 percent for white students (compared to 55 percent in 2016), 37 percent for Hispanic/Latino students (compared to 31 percent in 2016), and 25 percent for black/African American students (compared to 21 percent in 2016). The ACT college readiness benchmarks are scores on the ACT subject area tests (English, Reading, Mathematics and Science) that represent the level of achievement for students to have a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or higher in corresponding credit-bearing college courses.
Other ACT results for Massachusetts students included:
Among states where 40 percent or less of graduates participated in the ACT, New Hampshire (25.5) had a slightly higher composite score, while Massachusetts was followed by Connecticut (25.2) and Maine (24.3).
On the four subject-area tests, Massachusetts had the highest percentage of 2017 graduates meeting the math (75 percent) benchmark and tied with New Hampshire for the highest percentage in reading (75 percent). With respect to the English benchmark, both Massachusetts and Connecticut saw 88 percent of their students meet the benchmark, which was second to New Hampshire (89 percent). In science, 65 percent of Massachusetts students met the benchmark, which was second to New Hampshire (66 percent).
In Massachusetts’ class of 2017, 109 students earned a perfect ACT composite score of 36, up from 66 students in 2016.
The annual ACT College and Career Readiness Campaign, which celebrates achievement and builds awareness of the goals of college and career readiness for all, identified two state exemplars in Massachusetts: Shellaina Gordon, a graduate of Fitchburg High School, was recognized in the category of student readiness, and Belmont High School was recognized in the category of college and career transition.
Graduates of Massachusetts public high schools performed similarly to the combined results for Massachusetts public and private schools. Massachusetts 2017 public school graduates had an average composite score for 25.3, which was up from last year’s 24.6. In 2017, 56 percent of graduates of Massachusetts public high schools who were tested met all four ACT college readiness benchmark scores.
For more information, visit http://www.act.org/content/act/en/research/condition-of-college-and-career-readiness-2017.html.