Scores on the ACT college admissions test taken by recent high school graduates hit their lowest point in more than thirty years. The press reported that this was due to the disruption from the pandemic and lockdowns. While that is true, it is only part of the reason for the decline in test scores.
Let’s first look at the dismal results from the test. The average ACT composite score for the class of 2022 was just 19.8 out of 36. This is the first time since 1991 that the average score was below 20. What is even more discouraging is that nearly half (42%) of the graduates of the class of 2022 did not meet any of the subject benchmarks in English, reading, science, and math.
To be fair, ACT test scores have declined steadily in the last few years. But educators are alarmed at the magnitude of the decline. The CEO of ACT lamented, “We see rapidly growing numbers of seniors leaving high school without meeting college-readiness benchmarks in any of the subjects we measure.”
Much of the decline is due to the devastating impact of the lockdowns and the foolish assumption that students would pay attention when they were supposedly learning online. But now that students are back in the classroom, what are they learning?
Lance Izumi reports, “One California student reported that a teacher at his school told the class that perfectionism and striving for perfection was part of white supremacy culture.” Another argued that “it was bad to have a good work ethic or to be supportive of meritocracy.” Grades are inflated. Low grades are eliminated. Multiple retakes of exams are permitted.
Here’s the problem: Talking about patriarchy, supremacy, and racism crowd out the essential skills necessary for students to succeed. That’s also why test scores are falling.