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National ACT scores decline, Utah scores trend upward

FILE: Multiple choice exam, spells ACT. Photo: Canva

SALT LAKE CITY — ACT college entrance exam scores are down nationwide but that trend isn’t hitting Utah students.

According to reports released by the ACT and first reported by the Deseret News, 38% of the high school graduating class of 2021 did not meet any of the minimum scores in the four ACT college readiness categories: English composition, college Algebra, social sciences, and biology. 

ACT CEO Janet Godwin said this report isn’t something new to this year however, it’s following a trend they’ve seen for years

“This is the fourth consecutive year of declining achievement of high school seniors,” Godwin said.

“Too many of our seniors are simply not prepared for college-level work. As a country, we ignore these related trends at our own peril.

“These trends have all been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is not the single cause nor excuse for them,” she continued.

As the Deseret News noted, many colleges and universities have adopted test-optional admissions policies. The recent and growing test-optional policies could explain why Utah students, like students nationwide, took the ACT less during the 2020-2021 school year than in years past. 

Utah students though have diverged from national trends in their ACT test scores which rose in English, math, reading and science.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson said in a statement, “The great news of our ACT results is a reflection on the students, teachers, and parents who made this happen through their commitment to education. This year we need to continue focusing on ensuring that all students who are age-eligible take the ACT which will help them expand their choices and opportunities for the future.”

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