South Carolina Class of 2020 Sees Dip in ACT Performance

Monday, October 26th, 2020

The ACT has released assessment data for the 2020 South Carolina high school graduates who took the ACT test. Graduates from South Carolina public schools saw a decrease in average composite scores from 18.6 in 2019 to 18.1 in 2020. Additionally, 22% of graduates met three or four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks down from 24% in 2019.

The ACT report represents 32,330 South Carolina public school students who took the ACT test, which is not required but is paid for by the state and administered either during a designated school day or on Saturday.

“I am disappointed to see a decrease in ACT performance from our graduates,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “When we noticed in 2018 how wide the disparity gap was between our high performing schools and districts and our low performing, positive results occurred because we placed emphasis on addressing those issues over the following year. It is clear that the gap still exists and we must maintain a laser focus on regaining high quality classroom instruction and student achievement.”

In South Carolina and in the nation, taking the proper coursework in high school dramatically increases a student’s likelihood of success on the ACT. South Carolina students taking the ACT recommended core curriculum, who accounted for 46% of test takers, had an average composite of 19.9 compared to 17.1 for students who did not take the core curriculum.

Additional Trends and Observations

  • Data shows that in South Carolina, 8,724 of the 2020 graduates (25%) taking the ACT two or more times had an average composite score of 21.6, compared to an average of 17.4 for 26,028 of the 2020 graduates (75%) who took the ACT only once.

  • 48% percent of the 83,106 score reports sent to colleges by 2020 South Carolina ACT-tested graduates were sent to in-state public colleges.

  • In the South Carolina graduating class of 2020, 976 (3%) indicated they planned on majoring in education. 

  • Data shows that historically underserved learners' college readiness levels greatly lag behind their peers. Only 2% of African American students met all four of ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks.

School, district, and state data for The ACT can be found here.