TDOE Releases 2021-22 ACT State Results and Participation Rate Data

Tuesday, December 13, 2022 | 03:00pm


Participation Rate Rebounds and Average Composite Remains Steady

Nashville, TN—Today, the Tennessee Department of Education released the ACT state results and participation rate for the 2022 graduating class. Participation in the ACT among the 2022 graduating class rebounded from previous years with a participation rate of 98% across the state. The state average composite ACT score remained steady at 19.1 for the 2022 graduating class. 

The ACT provides important measures to understand students’ college and career readiness and how Tennessee prepares the next generation to transition to postsecondary opportunities. Through Tennessee’s award-winning ACT Senior Retake program, the state offers public high school students the opportunity to take the ACT two times for free during normal school hours. 

Each fall, the department releases statewide ACT results for the most recent graduating class representing each student’s highest ACT score. The 2021-22 graduating class’s ACT results are available on the department’s Data Downloads webpage.

“Tennessee remains committed to preparing each and every student for success beyond high school in the pathway of their choice,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “Taking the ACT is an important gateway for many postsecondary opportunities and scholarships, and this year’s graduating class rebounded our state’s participation in the ACT to pre-pandemic levels—demonstrating the continued efforts by our districts, schools, teachers, and families to ensure our students are on a path to success.”

Key highlights of the 2021-22 ACT state results include:

  • The ACT participation rate rebounded to pre-pandemic levels—with the state’s participation rate being 96% for the 2020-21 graduating class, 97% for the 2019-20 graduating class, and 98% for the 2018-19 graduating class. 
  • The participation rate increased noticeably among three historically underserved student groups and decreased slightly among one historically underserved student group when comparing the participation rates from 2021 to 2022. 
    • Black, Hispanic, and Native American students showed a 4%-point increase. 
    • Economically disadvantaged students showed a 4%-point increase.
    • English learners showed a 7%-point increase.
    • Students with disabilities had a 2%-point decrease. 
  • The average ACT composite score for students who took the ACT during their junior year and on the Senior Retake in 2021 increased from 18.4 to 18.9, a 0.5-point increase. Additionally, 50.2% of students who participated in the Senior Retake increased their composite score from their junior year in 2021.
  • Student performance on the ACT remains largely unchanged from 2021 to 2022. 
    • The state average composite ACT score was 19.1 among both the 2021 and 2022 graduating cohorts. 
    • Approximately 35% of students who took the ACT met the college-ready benchmark in 2022, while 36% met the college ready benchmark in 2021.

District highlights of the 2021-22 ACT results include:

  • In 2021-22, 29 districts had a participation rate of 100%, compared to 17 districts in 2020-21.
  • 125 districts (96%) met the 95% ACT participation rate in 2022 compared to 110 districts (85%) in 2021. 
  • Williamson County Schools had the highest percentage of students meeting the overall ACT composite benchmark of 21 (75%), followed by Germantown Municipal School District (73%) and Collierville Schools (65%).
  • Alvin C. York Institute demonstrated the highest growth in the percentage of students meeting the overall ACT composite benchmark of 21 with a 13 percentage point increase from 2021 (26%) to 2022 (39%), followed by Cheatham County Schools (11 percentage points increase) and Cannon County Schools (10 percentage points increase). 

“Performance on the ACT is largely indicative of the cumulative educational experience provided to students throughout their educational career to the point the test is taken. Even so, we also implemented targeted tutoring and interventions to address learning loss resulting from the pandemic," said Gary Lilly, Director of Schools, Collierville Schools. “We are blessed to have tremendous educators, involved families, and conscientious students who understand the importance of the assessment and focus on preparing for it.”

“We are always trying to improve our ACT scores, and we have much to celebrate this year. We are extremely proud of the work that both our students and teachers have put in to drive this high growth. Many of our students were able to significantly increase their scores this year, and we applaud them for this accomplishment,” said Dr. Cathy Beck, Director of Schools, Cheatham County Schools. “We are fortunate that the state of Tennessee has opportunities in place such as the free senior ACT retake and the free ACT prep workshops offered through the University of Tennessee at Martin to support and prepare students for the test.”

"We are very proud of the recent gains and successes our students made on the most recent ACT exam.  The faculty did a tremendous job of not only preparing our students, but they also instilled ownership in our students," said John Bush, Director of Schools, Alvin C. York Institute. “Our students understand that ACT success has real monetary value in scholarship earnings, increases their likelihood of being selected to their school of choice, and is a key indicator of success over multiple post-secondary pathways."

In October 2022, Tennessee was awarded the inaugural ACT State Equity and Access Champion Award, celebrating and honoring the state’s commitment to postsecondary access by enabling more students to achieve their goals and dreams through the state’s ACT Senior Retake program.

Tennessee leads the nation in ACT access, offering public high school students the opportunity to take the ACT two times for free during normal school hours. Public school students test once in the spring of their junior year, and then have an opportunity to retake the ACT in the fall of their senior year during normal school hours. As a result of the ACT senior retake program, Tennessee’s minority, low income, and underserved students have been able to achieve a two-point increase in average composite scores. Since Tennessee first provided the senior retake opportunity in 2016, 1 in 3 students have earned the qualifying ACT score to receive the HOPE scholarship award.

In partnership with the University of Tennessee, Martin, the department offers free ACT prep workshops for students and educators. To learn more about college readiness testing in Tennessee, click here.

ACT results serve as a nationally-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 students can demonstrate that they are prepared for life after high school and a seamless entry into postsecondary education, the workplace, and the military. The ACT remains an element in the state’s Ready Graduate calculations to benefit students who were able to test and meet the ACT threshold for Ready Graduate classification.

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact