Wednesday, August 5, 2020
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IL tops list of states requiring ACT of all grads

The average composite ACT scores among Illinois high school students haven’t changed much in three years, going from 20.9 in 2012 to 20.7 this year, and neither has the state’s ranking among states that require all high school graduates to take the college entrance exam, which is first place, although the state was technically tied this year for the top spot.

The ACT is the most common college entrance exam taken by students who want to pursue postsecondary education, having surpassed the SAT a few years back. In the US, 13 states required all graduates in the Class of 2015 to take the ACT, and average scores in those states tend to be lower than average scores in states where taking the ACT is completely voluntary.


Weak negative correlation: Average scores were lower in states where more students took the test. (ACT)

Although groups like Reboot Illinois and agencies like the Illinois State Board of Education trumpet Illinois’s rank, we’re not in favor of any standings that rank one school, one teacher, one student, one state, or one nation against any other.

I play down these results because the ACT, SAT, and many standardized tests don’t reveal much about the quality of schools and instead show extremely high correlations with affluence. We once noted the SAT had been labeled the “Student Affluence Test.” In 2010, we said “we can see plainly that many of the high schools in the state with the highest proportion of students coming from low-income households have the lowest ACT scores.”

In Maryland, 25 percent of the students in the Class of 2015 took the ACT, recording an average composite score of 22.7.

In 2012, Voxitatis considered the rankings of states where at least 50 percent of students took the ACT, finding Illinois in 11th place with Minnesota leading the pack.

The average composite ACT score for 2015 in Illinois puts the state in 32nd place among all states and tied for 11th place, with Oklahoma and Colorado, among the 30 states where at least 50 percent of graduates took the test.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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