Leslie and I were in the car and heard a misleading story on AM radio about the ACT results when this information released last week. They accurately reported that the percentage of ACT test takers is up 39% between 2008 and 2012. They also accurately reported that our ACT score was unchanged this year over last at 20.8 and that our score falls short of the national score of 21.1. That’s where the report ended, and that’s where we all need to continue telling this story!
Average Joe Texan doesn’t understand two important factors not reported in this story. First, unlike many states, Texas strongly encourages all students to aspire to college and therefore to take the ACT exam. And second, Texas has much higher percentages of economically disadvantaged students, students in poverty, students living in single parent homes, and students with limited English proficiency. Since we know these challenges are factors that impact student performance, we also know that the more students we have taking the ACT, the lower the score will tend to be.
What this AM radio news report failed to explain is that Texas educators have done a tremendous job of increasing the numbers and percentages of students taking the ACT while preventing a natural decrease in the score. The fact that the score has remained constant with increasing numbers of students taking the exam is remarkable! Texas educators should be congratulated. Instead, we are left with the typical impression that our students are lagging behind their peers nationally when the opposite is actually true.
If we were to break down the ACT results by groups of students at various levels of poverty, and we will do that this fall, we predict, at every level, Texas students will be outperforming their peers across the U.S.
Read the press release here