Chart of the Day: Youth Test Scores Plummet to Lowest Levels Since 1991 – Only Covid Causation?

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The average ACT (American College Testing) test score for students in the class of 2022 dropped to its lowest level in more than three decades (1991), according to new data. The ACT® test is the leading US admissions test, measuring what students learn in high school to determine academic readiness for college.

The decline in scores is the latest indicator of the pandemic’s detrimental effects on the nation’s students – and underscores the extent to which graduating high school students are ill-prepared for college. “The magnitude of the declines this year is particularly alarming, as we see rapidly growing numbers of seniors leaving high school without meeting the college-readiness benchmark in any of the subjects we measure,” ACT CEO Janet Godwin said in a statement.

The number of students taking the ACT has declined 30% since 2018, AP reports. Showing a decline in preparedness for college-level coursework, the test scores, made public in a report, show 42% of ACT-tested graduates in the class of 2022 met none of the subject benchmarks in English, reading, science, and math, which are indicators of how well students are expected to perform in corresponding college courses. In comparison, 38% of test takers in 2021 failed to meet any of the benchmarks.

The scoring for an ACT is from 0 to 36. The average ACT score in the US for 2022 is 19.9 for English, 20.2 for Math, 21.1 for Reading, 20.5 for Science, and 20.6 for the composite ACT. Below are the score distributions for all students taking the ACT during the 2021–2022 reporting year.

American College Testing (ACT) Scoring

Interestingly, there’s been an increase in the number of students getting perfect scores over the past two and a half decades, especially since 2012. However, the trends are recently clearly down. See below the historical trends in ACT scores and learn more here.

Historical Trends in ACT Scores

ACT scores had been slightly rising up to about 2008. Though for sure, Covid caused ACT scores to plummet since 2020. However, scores had already been in decline since about 2012. The question is, why? Can we blame the recent sharp decline all on Covid?

The 2012 period was an interesting time. If you recall, it was President Obama’s second term, and the focus at the time and his administration were on the rise of the Social Justice Warrior and racially charged incidents like George Zimmerman. Many of the events at that time were encouraged by President Obama – see here Obama’s comments on Trayvon Martin, who was killed by Zimmerman that was ruled not guilty. Obama weighed in on the trial saying, “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” suggesting racial injustice.

We mention this because from the start of the 2012 period until now, the youth have been intensely focused on social issues and, frankly, not their educational studies. Furthermore, the environment in which the youth must live has been highly problematic, with the ongoing declines in traditional families, rising crime, racial victimology, and declines in educational standards via woke policies. Could this have anything to do with recent declines in test scores?

Regardless, these declines in ACT test scores are alarming. If the youth do not have the educational skills for an ever-increasing technological world, the future of America is in peril.

See more Chart of the Day posts.

By Tom Williams

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