Nevada’s American College Test scores are the worst in the nation.
Nevada students not only earned the lowest ACT composite score (17.3) among U.S. states in 2022, a drop of nearly 18 percent since 2015, but also received the worst scores on each subject test: 16.1 for English; 17.1 for Math; 17.8 for Reading; and 17.6 for Science.
Contributing to the decline was difficulty in holding Nevada students accountable during the pandemic, along with policies that failed to penalize students for late or missing work.
There are several steps Nevada can take to improve ACT scores:
- Encourage Clark County School District to get rid of lenient grading policies implemented in 2021. Under these policies a 50 is the lowest grade possible, teachers cannot penalize students for late work and students are allowed to retake tests. This has made it easier for students to game the system and pass classes. Instead, this should be handled on a case-by-case basis. Grades may have improved, but test scores have fallen.
- Provide more education options for families. Data proves that parents know better than bureaucracy. For example, public charter schools grew in popularity as an in-person education option when public schools closed during the pandemic. These schools overall showed higher proficiency test rates in English Language Arts and Mathematics compared to school districts in Washoe County and Clark County.
- Motivate students to retake the ACT. Nevada has the lowest retest rate of 7.9 percent. While the retake rates are different across states, Nevada scores no longer rank at the bottom when students retest. If students improve their ACT scores, they are more likely to be accepted into college and receive more scholarships.
The ACT test serves to measure high school students’ readiness for college, and it provides colleges with a common data point by which to compare all applicants.
Nevada is not alone when it comes to declining ACT scores. National scores have fallen to the lowest level in 30 years with an average composite score of 19.8 out of 36. Forty-two percent of 2022 graduates who took the exam met none of the subject benchmarks.
Participation rates varied across states, which makes comparing results difficult. Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee and Wyoming are the only states where 100 percent of students took the ACT.
In addition to learning loss due to the pandemic and a reported lack of accountability, other reasons were cited for low nationwide ACT scores, including a “lack of access to a rigorous high school curriculum,” according to Rose Babington, ACT’s senior director for state partnerships.
Tommy Schultz, CEO of American Federation for Children, took to social media to voice concerns over the low ACT scores, writing “the K-12 system is broken” and that it is “time for fully funded school choice for ALL families.”
ACT scores are at 30 year lows
42% of students taking the ACT met NONE of the “College Readiness Benchmarks”
National Report Card data shows 66% of 4th graders don’t have basic reading skills.
The K-12 system is broken.
Time for fully funded school choice for ALL families.
— Tommy Schultz (@Tommy_USA) October 13, 2022