Class of 2022: ACT scores drop to lowest level in more than 30 years

"This is the fifth consecutive year of declines in average scores, a worrisome trend that began long before the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has persisted," said ACT CEO Janet Godwin.

Learning loss—a term that’s been repeatedly thrown at administrators and educators since the pandemic. Yet, we can’t escape it until it’s been properly addressed.

Credit must be given where it’s due. At least 56% of all public schools offered high-dosage tutoring by the spring of 2022. 72% offered mental health and trauma support, and 62% provided after-school learning, all according to the latest data from the 2022 School Pulse Panel survey. Yet, students still fall short in their academics.

More than 40% of high school seniors failed to meet the college-readiness benchmarks, according to data released by ACT, a nonprofit designed to help students achieve academic and workplace success. Furthermore, the class of 2022 earned the lowest average ACT score in more than 30 years.

“This is the fifth consecutive year of declines in average scores, a worrisome trend that began long before the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has persisted,” said ACT CEO Janet Godwin in a statement.

“The magnitude of the declines this year is particularly alarming, as we see rapidly growing numbers of seniors leaving high school without meeting the college-readiness benchmark in any of the subjects we measure. These declines are not simply a byproduct of the pandemic.”

According to the data, the average ACT composite score was 19.8. The last time the average score dropped below 20 was in 1991. This continued decline in test scores reflects a recent report from the National Center of Education Statistics, revealing that the pandemic’s disruption to student learning has significantly impacted student learning.

“They are further evidence of longtime systemic failures that were exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Godwin. “A return to the pre-pandemic status quo would be insufficient and a disservice to students and educators. These systemic failures require sustained collective action and support for the academic recovery of high school students as an urgent national priority and imperative.”

More from DA: How are the 100 largest school districts supporting teachers with their ESSER funds?

Among the test takers, only 22% met all four ACT benchmarks, while 42% failed to meet any of them. In 2021, 25% of students met those benchmarks, and 38% failed to meet them.

The organization also released the average ACT scores by state. Based on the results, these five states produced the highest average composite scores in 2022:

  1. District of Columbia: 26.9
  2. Massachusetts: 26.5
  3. California: 26.5
  4. Connecticut: 26.3
  5. New Hampshire: 25.7
Micah Ward
Micah Ward
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

Most Popular