ACT Scores Inch Upward

COLUMBIA – While statewide results in this year’s American College Testing (ACT) composite scores edged upward by a percentage point, graduating seniors in local high schools taking the test last spring produced varying results, according to data released last month by the S.C. Department of Education. While the benchmark scores in the subjects of English, Math, Reading and Science improved or stayed nearly the same among local test takers, only test takers at Blythewood High School, and only in one subject – English – met or exceeded the ACT benchmark numbers.

The Benchmarks

The ACT sets benchmark scores as a minimum required to indicate a 50 percent chance of earning a B or higher, or a 75 percent chance of earning a C or higher, in the college courses of English Composition, Algebra, Social Science and Biology. The corresponding ACT test subjects and their benchmarks are English, 18; Mathematics, 22; Reading, 22; and Science, 23.

(2013 benchmark scores in parentheses)

Blythewood High School

BHS had 213 seniors take the ACT in 2014, compared with 180 a year ago. Test takers scored an average of 19.2 in English (19.8); 20.2 in Math (20.6); 20.8 in Reading (21); and 20.3 in Science (20.1), with a mean composite score of 20.2 (20.4). This was on par with Richland 2’s district-wide scores of 19.2 in English (19.3); 20.2 in Math (20.4); 20.7 in Reading (20.5); and 20.2 in Science (20), with an average composite of 20.2 (20.1).

Westwood High School

WHS tested 82 seniors in 2014, compared with 26 in 2013. Test takers averaged scores of 16 in English (15); 16.9 in Math (17); 17.6 in Reading (17.2); and 17.4 in Science (17.1). WHS senior test takers averaged a composite score of 17.1 (16.6).

Fairfield Central High School

The lone high school in the Fairfield County School District tested 70 seniors in 2014, down from 76 last year. Test takers averaged scores of 15.6 in English (14.2); 16.8 in Math (16.5); 17.1 in Reading (16.2); and 16.6 in Science (16.5), with an average composite score of 16.6 (15.9).

National Averages

State and local scores remain below the national averages in all four subjects. In 2014, those averages were: English, 20.3 (20.2); Math, 20.9 (20.9); Reading, 21.3 (21.1); and Science, 20.8 (20.7), with an average composite of 21 (20.9).

“While South Carolina’s average ACT composite score was slightly under the national average, its proximity proves that we are making progress,” State Superintendent of Education Dr. Mick Zais said. “These are positive results that we can build on for the future.”