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Nearly 75 percent of Tennessee high school seniors participate in 2017 ACT Retake Day

19,000 seniors raise their score; more than 2,300 additional students now able to access up to $37 million in HOPE Scholarship funds
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 | 10:24am

NASHVILLE—Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced today that 74.7 percent of the state’s high school class of 2018—nearly 52,000 students—participated in the department’s second ACT Senior Retake Day in October 2017. This number is double the number of seniors who chose to participate in the first ACT Senior Retake Day the previous fall.

Of those seniors who retook the ACT in October, about 40 percent—or almost 19,000—increased their overall score, and 2,333 seniors raised their composite to a 21 or higher, making them eligible for HOPE Scholarship funds that provide up to $16,000 to help students pay for college in Tennessee, as well as potentially additional grant support. 

The 2017 ACT retake also resulted in more students hitting the ACT college-readiness benchmarks in each of the four tested subject areas: math, English, science, and reading. Meeting college-readiness benchmarks allows students to enroll directly into credit-bearing postsecondary coursework, avoiding remedial classes that take additional time and money and may make it less likely they will graduate college. Scores earned from the 2017 ACT Senior Retake Day will save Tennessee students up to $7.8 million in remedial course costs. 

“As we work toward our goal of a statewide average of 21 by 2020, we see opportunities like the ACT Senior Retake Day moving our students one step closer,” McQueen said. “These results are so much more than just a number; they allow our students to open new doors of opportunity that can change the trajectory of their lives. Now, more Tennessee students are able to access scholarship funding, gain admission to colleges and universities, and earn credit for their work from day one.”  

For the 2017 retake, the state expanded the ACT Senior Retake Day to all Tennessee public high school seniors for the first time, no longer requiring students to have taken it as a junior in order to be eligible or asking them to sign up separately. In addition, the department made it easier for public school seniors to retake the ACT by offering this second opportunity during the school day in students’ own schools, instead of asking them to take it on a Saturday morning at an ACT testing site. These changes provided all public school students increased access to take advantage of the opportunity. School districts were also empowered to choose the testing date that was best for their students and caused the least disruption for those not taking the exam. The results—in terms of scholarship eligibility obtained and remediation avoided—demonstrate that the return on investment of this initiative is consistently more than tenfold. 

Ten districts in the state saw an average composite growth of half point (0.5) or more from their junior test day to the ACT Senior Retake. Metro Nashville Public Schools, which serves Davidson County, had the highest average growth (0.5 points) of the state’s large urban districts. Additionally, 26 districts had an average participation rate of at least 85 percent of seniors who participated in both the junior state testing and the senior retake. Each of these districts—those with the biggest growth in their score and those with the highest participation rates—are recognized as “ACT Retake Rockstars.” The list of districts earning this recognition is below:

ACT Retake Rockstars – Growth in score

  • Anderson County
  • Arlington City
  • Collierville City
  • Davidson County
  • Franklin County 
  • Haywood County
  • Henderson County
  • Humboldt City
  • Maryville City
  • Williamson County

ACT Retake Rockstars – Participation

  • Arlington City
  • Bedford County
  • Benton County
  • Bradford Special School District
  • Chester County
  • Collierville City
  • Crockett County
  • Dyer County
  • Gibson County Special School District
  • Hardin County
  • Humboldt City
  • Humphreys County
  • Huntingdon Special School District
  • Jefferson County
  • Lawrence County
  • Lenoir City
  • Loudon County
  • Marshall County
  • McKenzie Special School District
  • McMinn County
  • Meigs County
  • Milan Special School District
  • Pickett County
  • Stewart County
  • Trenton Special School District
  • Union City

To learn more about the department’s ACT initiatives, please visit the department’s website or contact Jerre Maynor, director of student readiness, at For media inquiries, please contact Sara Gast, director of communications, at or call 615-532-6260.