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The Alabama State Department of Education is celebrating after winning an award from ACT. The first-ever State College and Career Champion Award was presented by Janet Godwin, the CEO of ACT.

Godwin said the state has had an aggressive stance on preparing students for the ACT.

“From PreACT to the ACT to ACT WorkKeys, ALSDE’s college and career readiness system exemplifies your commitment to connecting assessment, instructional improvement, and educator resources, and to truly walking the walk of ‘college and career opportunity for all by providing students multiple pathways to success,” Godwin said.

“On behalf of ACT, I am pleased and proud to recognize Alabama as our 2022 ACT State College and Career Champion and present this award to State Superintendent, Dr. Eric Mackey, members of the Alabama State Board of Education, and all educators across the state of Alabama who have and continue to work so hard to ensure every student has an opportunity at a successful future.”

In the past 10 years, 520,000 Alabama graduates have completed the ACT successfully.

“The numbers don’t lie, but they only tell a portion of the story,” State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Eric Mackey said. “Because of Alabama’s commitment to providing all students with valid, reliable, and nationally recognized measures of knowledge and skills, as well as workforce readiness, we have provided possibilities for enhanced futures to countless students who may otherwise not have had them.”

But is taking the test just as important as doing well on it?

Data from ACT shows that in 2021, 100% of students in Alabama took the ACT. The highest score possible is 36. The state’s average score was 18.7, which is lower than the national average of 20.3.

It has been questioned if comparing the national average with Alabama's average makes sense. This is because so many students in Alabama take the ACT while other states have not shown as much participation. For states where only students going to college take the ACT would likely have higher averages. The states with lower averages than Alabama were Hawaii (18.2), Louisiana (18.4), Mississippi (18.1), Nevada (17.8), and South Carolina (18.6).

The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA) has been tracking ACT scores for years and said a decline in scores was expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Schools across the country operated virtually during the spring of 2020 when the students in the class of 2021 were juniors,” Thomas Spencer, with PARCA wrote. “Altered forms of schooling persisted into the fall of 2020. In normal circumstances, some students take the test more than once, attempting to boost their scores. That happened less with the Class of 2021. According to ACT, only 32% of students took the ACT more than once compared to 41% of the 2020 cohort. That drop was likely because most universities suspended the requirement of taking the ACT due to the disruptions.”

Some colleges have continued to suspend the ACT requirement. However, those scores can be helpful to students who are applying for scholarships.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email erica.thomas@1819news.com.

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