The ACT is a national college admissions test created by ACT, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides assessment, research, and other services to support college and career readiness. ACT, Inc. offers several assessments for students to gauge their skills and knowledge at the middle school, high school, and college levels. ACT also offers assessments for adults in the workforce to gauge their skills and knowledge.
State law requires that all 11th grade students take an exam to assess “student readiness for postsecondary education.” Districts may choose to use the ACT or SAT to fulfill this requirement.
For districts in 2016-17, the state’s accountability system sets a threshold of 85 percent test participation for students graduating with a regular diploma and scales up to 95 percent participation in 2017-18.
Additionally, beginning with the graduating class of 2018, all students enrolled in a Tennessee public school in their junior year must take the ACT or SAT to graduate with a regular diploma.
The state provides funding through the Basic Education Program (BEP) for students to take either the ACT or SAT in grade 11. In 2016, the General Assembly passed legislation authorizing retakes of the ACT at no cost to students meeting certain criteria, and in 2017 the state expanded the offer of free retakes to all students in the senior class. In fall 2016, nearly 26,000 seniors retook the test and nearly 40 percent of them increased their scores. Additionally, economically disadvantaged students may be eligible for two fee waivers to take the ACT at no charge on a national test date.
The ACT includes subject level tests in English, Math, Reading, and Science. Students receive scores that range from 1 to 36 on each subject and an overall composite score (which is an average of the four subject test scores). The Tennessee Department of Education calculated an ACT composite score (reflecting public school students’ highest score) for the class of 2017 in Tennessee as 20.1, an increase over the previous year’s score of 19.9.
The national average composite score calculated by ACT, Inc. for the class of 2017 was 21.0, reflecting both public and private school students’ most recent scores. Using ACT’s same national calculations, it reports Tennessee’s state composite as 19.8.
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- college and career readiness
- standardized test
- Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE)
- Basic Education Program (BEP)