Tennessee ACT Participation at All Time High

Monday, November 04, 2019 | 10:34am


Tennessee ACT Participation at All Time High

NASHVILLE—Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn announced today that a total of 63,829 students from Tennessee’s 2019 graduating class took the ACT, earning an average composite score of 20. This represents a 98 percent participation rate, which is an all-time high in the state. Of those students, 41.7 percent earned a score of 21 or higher, making them eligible for the HOPE scholarship.

The class of 2019 was the third cohort to have access to a free opportunity to retake the ACT. The state’s investment in the ACT retake has yielded promising results. Fifty percent of students who participated in the ACT Senior Retake Day increased their composite score from their junior year in 2018. Additionally, 3,825 seniors raised their composite score to a 21 or higher, allowing them to access more than $61 million in HOPE Scholarship funds. Tennessee is the first and only state to offer this opportunity on a statewide scale.

While the 2019 ACT composite is down slightly from the 2018 composite score of 20.2, the decline in Tennessee closely mirrors national declines in ACT results. Tennessee’s increase in participation affirms the state’s commitment to providing access to all students.

“More Tennessee students than ever before are taking advantage of the ACT and ACT retake,” said Commissioner Schwinn. “It is critical that we continue to increase access to these high-quality opportunities for all students, no matter where they live. This is one way that we will build a foundation to set all students on a path to success.”

The average ACT score for the public school graduating class of 2019 in each subject area was:

  • 19.6 in English, 0.1 point decrease from 2018,
  • 19.4 in math, 0.1 point decrease,
  • 20.5 in reading, 0.2 point decrease; and
  • 20.0 in science, 0.3 point decrease.

The department uses students' best ACT score, meaning that if a student took the ACT multiple times, the score included in today's results reflect his or her highest score. This is different than ACT’s calculation, which reports results based on the last score a student received, and also includes results from private school students.

District Highlights:

  • Germantown Municipal School District recorded a 26.3 average composite. The highest district ACT average composite in the history of the state.
  • Van Buren County Schools made the largest gains in the state from 2018 to 2019, raising its average composite by 1.7 points to 18.9.
  • Seven of the sixteen districts located in distressed rural counties showed average composite gains from 2018 to 2019: Jackson County Schools, Scott County Schools, Clay County Schools, Fentress County Schools, Lake County Schools, Lauderdale County Schools, and McNairy County Schools.
  • Thirty-four districts had a 100 percent participation rate on the ACT for 2019 graduates. A list of those districts is attached.

Other encouraging results show that the composite score for students with disabilities remained steady despite the statewide dip. Additionally, participation rates increased for students who are economically disadvantaged, students classified as English learners, and students with disabilities.

“Tennessee continues to show a strong commitment to advancing student achievement,” Commissioner Schwinn continued. “As more students take this assessment, we are more aware than ever before of the diverse needs of our state. Our new strategic plan, Best for All, will strengthen supports around high-quality materials, the whole child, and our educators and leaders.”

ACT results serve as a national-normed measure to indicate college and career readiness. Under Tennessee’s accountability model, earning a 21 on the ACT is one of the four ways that students can indicate that they are prepared for life after high school and a seamless entry into postsecondary education, the workplace, or the military. While ACT measures the culmination of what students have learned throughout their K-12 education, the state’s TCAP assessment complements ACT as a deeper, standards-based assessment that looks at what students learn annually and provides teachers and families with feedback each year. Together, ACT and TCAP help to identify if students are ready for their chosen path after high school.

All ACT data can be found here under the Additional Data- ACT Data.


CONTACT: Jennifer Johnson
(615) 532-6260