About a month after the College Board released SAT data, the other leading college entrance exam has released its own data. According to figures released today by ACT, Atlanta Public Schools’ (APS) 2019 graduates achieved an average composite ACT score of 19.1, a slight increase of 0.4 points from the 2018 average of 18.7 and the highest in recent history.
However, the percentage of 2019 APS graduates taking the ACT decreased compared to 2018, from 72% to 52%. ACT participation among 2019 graduates also declined at the state and national levels, and the average composite scores were stable (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. Average ACT score and participation – APS, Georgia, and nation
While we saw a decline in ACT participation, we have actually seen a dramatic increase in the total number of students taking college entrance exams. As I wrote earlier this month, the district engaged in a simple and targeted initiative with SAT School Day last year, which allowed all juniors to take the SAT exam at their home school during a normal school day, removing funding and transportation barriers for many students.
The APS class of 2019 was the first cohort to participate in SAT School Day: Students had the opportunity to take the SAT in their own schools, on a school day, at no cost to them. As a result of this initiative, 90% of 2019 APS graduates took the SAT – nearly 900 students more than the class of 2018. As expected with such a dramatic increase in participation, the average total SAT score for the class of 2019 decreased 53 points compared to 2018, from 997 to 944. For the first time since the redesigned SAT in 2016, more graduates took the SAT than the ACT.
I really want to stress the importance of this as I did in my previous blog post. Without taking a gateway exam, like the SAT or ACT, college is not an option. But so many of our students in the past did not have the opportunity because of funding or transportation issues. This is a perfect example of APS removing barriers of the past, creating equity and increased rigor … in all, living the mission of college and career readiness.
We will continue to do more.
Returning to the test results themselves, three APS schools exceeded the average ACT score for the nation (20.7): Grady High School (23.1); North Atlanta High School (22.2); and Drew Charter (21.1); Grady and North Atlanta also exceeded the state average ACT score (21.4). See Table 1.
Table 1. 2019 ACT results by school
For more information, including more school level results, please visit APS Insights at https://apsinsights.org.