TDOE District and School-Level ACT Scores

MEMPHIS, Tenn, — How well did Tennessee students perform on the ACT? Those numbers are in.

The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) released district-by-district and school-level results on Dec. 13.

According to the data, both 2021 and 2022 graduates statewide averaged a score of 19.1 on the test.

We also looked through the numbers from the largest school district in the state, Memphis-Shelby County Schools.

Based on the results, more MSCS students scored lower than 19 on the test than did last year, showing a 2% difference between 2021 and 2022 scores.

“To have a 2-percent decrease is not bad considering the pandemic and all of the absences and virtual learning that we had,” said MSCS District 6 board member Keith Williams.

There were slight drops in English, reading, and math.

For instance, math scores dropped slightly from 16.4 last year to 16.2.

Williams who is also the teachers’ union leader at the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association spoke to what he called a more pressing concern.

Williams claimed the test data is skewed because the state requires all students to take the test in order to graduate, including those who don’t have plans to attend college.

“My concern is testing students who do not want to be tested,” Williams said. “It is skewed because we have students who do not have an interest. You really want those who have an interest and who have prepared to go to college.”

In more detail, the scores show that 4,015 students scored lower than average last year.

That number increased to 4,497 in the latest results.

Williams said about this standardized test, that it only gives an outlook of the academic outcome, but not necessarily full student potential.

“The ACT gauges academic preparation. It may not gauge the zeal, zest and determination that a student has who wants to go to college.” Williams continued, “These are young students. They may not be academically prepared, but they may be mentally prepared for college when they get there, and they can turn that around.”

Natoria Carpenter is an MSCS parent who said the recent ACT results are concerning, but both her 10th and 11th graders recently took the test and were prepared early on.

“It is alarming that it’s 4-thousand kids and you got 900 at 21 or above,” said Carpenter. “I get it. When they see a test like that they get nervous; they get scared and some children don’t test well, but at least they get those opportunities to take it again.”

So what do these numbers really mean?

The highest possible score on the ACT is 36.

The average ACT score for students who get accepted into Harvard, for instance, is between 32 and 35.

However, any score of at least 24 is above the 75th percentile and is considered a good ACT score.

To find the full listing of recently released ACT test scores on the TDOE site, click here