State and nationwide ACT data was released this week, and North Carolina student scores on the college readiness test went down. The state's average composite ACT score fell more than 3 points to 18.7, the lowest average in the nation. ACT scores can range from 1 to 36.
That number reflects the first time all graduating North Carolina seniors had to take the test. Previously, only about 1 in 5 students took the ACT. Steve Kappler, Assistant Vice President for College Readiness at ACT, says the move to universal testing is worth the drop.
"North Carolina has made an investment," said Kappler. "And like any investment, it's not always going to pay off right now."
North Carolina State Superintendent June Atkinson says testing every student shows where improvement is needed. Atkinson says the goal is 100 percent college readiness.
"But we would certainly celebrate in North Carolina if we could get 75 percent of our students to be able to go to universities and community colleges without the need for any remedial course work," Atkinson said.
Atkinson says the numbers aren't all bad news. "The bright spot is that North Carolina has a baseline for which to compare its progress over the next few years in making sure our students are college and career ready."
Kappler, with ACT Inc. told WUNC that other states that have moved to universal ACT testing have seen scores gradually rise over the next three to five years. The same is expected for North Carolina.
"That first year a state shifts from being testing by choice, meaning students choose to test, versus all students test, you do see a pretty healthy decline," said Kappler. "What we see is over the course of the next three to five years, you're going to see some marked improvements."