National ACT Scores Down for 2016 Class Due to Increased Percentage of Students Tested

Immediate Release


Greg Bortolin
Carson City, NV - August 24, 2016

Nevada’s performance on its first year of requiring the ACT test for graduation was in line with national test scores that went down for the class of 2016. ACT analysis shows this was driven by a significant increase in the number and percentage of students who took the exam.

“We are in line with the national trend, but it’s also one we won’t accept,” said Steve Canavero, Ph.D., Superintendent of Public Instruction. “We have a baseline, even though these numbers are a year old, it underscores the need for the reforms that Governor Sandoval and our Legislature adopted in 2015. On a positive note, we now have more than three times as many students taking the ACT and for many I believe this will help define college as an opportunity they might not have considered.”

In Nevada, 32,261 students from the 2016 graduating class took the ACT, compared to 9,308 tested from the previous year. It was the first year that ACT participation was required for graduation as part of a comprehensive plan to raise expectations and prepare students to succeed in college and career. In statewide adoptions of the ACT, average ACT scores decrease by 1.22 score points for each additional 25 percent tested. For Nevada, the results revealed a decrease per additional 25 percent of 1.18. As a result, the Nevada average ACT composite score decreased by 3.3 from 21.0 in 2015 to 17.7 in 2016. In 2015, Nevada joined 17 other states in assessing 100 percent of their graduating class on the ACT.

For the first time, ACT has provided an indicator of career readiness based on ACT composite scores. In Nevada, 45 percent of ACT tested graduates are considered making progress towards at least the gold ACT National Career Readiness Certificate. An additional 33 percent met the silver standard, meaning that 78 percent meet the common industry benchmark.

In July, the ACT released results from Nevada’s 11th graders expecting to graduate in 2017 who took the test demonstrating similar results. For the second straight year, 10 percent of test takers met all four of the ACT’s College Readiness Benchmark Scores.

Nationally, close to two-thirds (64 percent) of the 2016 graduating seniors – nearly 2.1 million students, an all-time high – took the ACT. That compares to 59 percent of graduates the previous year and 52 percent in 2012.