For Immediate Release: March 11, 2021
JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) has released ACT results for the spring 2020 statewide administration of the ACT to all public high school juniors.
The average score for juniors increased from 17.6 in 2019 to 17.7 in 2020. The percentage of juniors meeting the benchmark scores for all four tested ACT subjects increased from 9% the previous two years to 10%.
Scores for Mississippi public school students who graduated in 2020 decreased from 18.1 to 17.9, and the percentage of students meeting all four benchmarks remained flat at 10%.
The national average ACT score for all students in the class of 2020, which includes public and private school students, was 20.6, down from 20.7 in 2019. ACT scores nationwide have dropped in recent years as the population of students taking the test has broadened.
The ACT is designed to predict how well students will perform in college, and colleges use standardized tests like the ACT to compare students across schools and states. ACT research shows students who take four or more years of English and three or more years each of math, social studies and natural science typically outperform their peers who report taking fewer courses in these subjects.
“Taking certain courses in high school substantially increases students’ readiness for college-level work and workforce training programs,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “Families are encouraged to work with high school counselors to ensure students are taking courses that will prepare them for their goals after graduation.”
The MDE provides districts with training related to analyzing ACT data, evaluating course taking patterns and designing ACT preparation courses. All school districts are now required to offer two specialized classes, the Essentials for College Literacy and the Essentials for College Math, to seniors who are on the cusp of meeting the ACT benchmark scores. All students who earn a grade of 80% or higher in these courses are entitled to enter credit-bearing college courses, without remediation, at all Mississippi public universities and community colleges.