Metro students' ACT scores abysmal — again

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 6:07pm

While Tennessee’s ACT scores dipped in 2011 from the previous year’s numbers, the average ACT scores of Metro Nashville Public School students stayed the same.

Still, there’s little reason to celebrate.

Just like in 2010, Metro students in 2011 scored a composite average of 18.1 out of 36 on the ACT, a test used nationwide by universities to determine college readiness.

The score is nearly a full point lower than the state’s 19.0 ACT average, which ranks Tennessee 49th of 50 states nationally in ACT test scores, leading only Mississippi.

The ACT released statewide scores last week as part of its “Condition of College and Career Readiness” report. A year ago, Tennessee students had earned a composite average of 19.1. 

Kevin Huffman, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Education, called the new results “unacceptable” in a statement. 

Metro’s district-wide ACT test scores were made available late last week, according to MNPS spokeswoman Olivia Brown. She said the number of students taking the test in Metro increased 8 percent from 2010 to 2011, a jump from 3,654 students to 3,969 students.

High school juniors and seniors typically take the test. Brown said she did not have demographic breakdowns of ACT test results. 

Looking at the statewide results, 24 percent of students earned college-ready math scores, 55 percent in English, 38 percent in reading and 17 percent in science.

The statewide report revealed a wide achievement gap between white and black students. Only 7 percent of black students statewide earned college-ready math scores in math, according to ACT results.

By law, 100 percent of Tennessee high school graduates take the ACT.

20 Comments on this post:

By: RTungsten on 8/24/11 at 6:10

While I'm not standing up for Metro Schools in the least bit, I do want to mention that the ACT score has little, if any, guidance on your future as a human being. Sure, you might end up at your safety school and forcefully enjoy 4 years...but putting stock in this test is questionable. For example, I know people who scored 30+ and can't keep a job to save their life, some didn't even finish undergrad. Me? I topped out at 19 on the ACT, but carried a 3.8 in undergrad (BBA) and a 3.9 in grad school (MBA), both were nationally ranked, private colleges. Your future is defined by will and determination, not a standardized test score.

By: treehugger7 on 8/24/11 at 6:23

Stupid people have stupid children....

By: dargent7 on 8/24/11 at 6:53

Perfect. The great state of Tenn. comes in 49th out of 50.
Just eeked out Miss. No, the south ain't dumb at all.

By: RTungsten on 8/24/11 at 8:27

Perhaps they should dedicate a week in the new "year-round" school schedule to ACT Test Prep. Another option would be to stop closing school because of rain.

By: Moonglow1 on 8/24/11 at 8:47

Moonglow1: all of the wealthy students are at Montgomery Bell or other private schools. So Metro is left with the more challenging students. And teachers are mandated to
teach to No Child Left Behind instead of actual teaching. This is in addition to the Republican focus on creationism and "intelligent design. ". So in this type of environment you get a poor outcome.

By: bfra on 8/24/11 at 9:40

That doesn't mean the children in private schools are any smarter, they just have a better advantage of learning. Teach in English and leave it up to the hispanic parents to have their children prepared to start school. Why should English speaking children be held back because of language and that is exactly what public schools are doing. These high tech educators, supposedly (shcool board & Register) seem to be under educated!

By: Moonglow1 on 8/24/11 at 10:47

Moonglow1: bfra-I agree that children in private schools are not smarter. However in addition to the language issues you raised there are other concerns that I have from a policy perspective such as No Child, lack of resources needed for students, and demoralizing teachers by taking away their collective bargaining rights. This is all in addition to the tea party subversion of our tax dollars to fund privately run charter schools. The entire agenda is to weaken and ultimately destroy public education in this country so that only the wealthy receive an education. This is already the case with colleges. I am sure that language barriers place students at an even greater disadvantage.

By: bfra on 8/24/11 at 11:17

Moonglow1 - I agree on all accounts! As long as American citizens keep electing the types we have in office now, it will not get any better. Look what we have in charge of public schools, just here in Nashville. Can't get much more pathetic, their only worry is salary.

By: JohnGalt on 8/24/11 at 11:27

darge says, "Just eeked out Miss."

Minus 10 for vocabulary misuse.

By: Balo on 8/24/11 at 1:20

The ACT test has no value in the education of students. The only value of the test is used by colleges to enroll students. Big deal...so students can still enroll in community colleges to further their education and move later to a four year college.

Commissioner Huffman used the term "unacceptable" in the wrong context. What is unacceptable is the State & Federal Departments of Education. What is unacceptable is the state legislature requiring all students to take this meaningless test. Forrest Gupp's mother had a point about stupid

Hopefully, the politicians will learn that standardized test, ACT...SAT..No Child left Behind, have no value in the progress of students It is about motivating students to nourish their desire to excel in life. Teachers need to spend more educational time in this area than preparing for a pointless test.

By: JeffF on 8/24/11 at 1:59

"Perfect. The great state of Tenn. comes in 49th out of 50.
Just eeked out Miss. No, the south ain't dumb at all."

Actually Tennessee as a whole did considerably better. Leaving out the intellectual bastions of Memphis and Nashville would have put Tennessee in the low to mid 30's.

Decades of progressives in charge of our largest cities continues to drag down the state in the eyes of the country. Every measurable result shows these two districts dragging the statistical curves far to the left. The only measurements the cities beat the state average is in teacher salaries and per pupil spending.

Lay off the state, we are the embarrassments.

By: David_S on 8/24/11 at 3:10

"The ACT test has no value in the education of students. The only value of the test is used by colleges to enroll students"

Wow, talk about a dumb statement. The state is not using the test to educate kids, it is using it to gauge the education of the kids, in the exact same way colleges are. Sadly, Tennessee's students are far behind students in other states. Just because you would rather not test the children and KNOW that they are in second to last place, does not change the fact that they ARE in second to last place.

And bfra, I couldn't entirely understand your post, but your average private school student IS smarter than your average public school student. That's largely because parental involvement in a child's education is the most reliable indicator of a child's success in school (and hence their intelligence), and most involved parents in crappy public school districts will put their kids in private school. That's not true 100% of the time, but it is true on average.

By: bfra on 8/24/11 at 3:38

David_S - I totally disagree with your smug statement. The average private school is not smarter than the average public school student. In fact the public school student probably has more common sense & in my book, that counts.

By: Balo on 8/24/11 at 7:46

To David

Now, it is the job of the State (politicians) to gauge the education of the students through a meaningless test. The job of educating and measuring the level of education is the job of the teachers.

What is the big deal about the ranking. This is not the ESPN poll on college football. I am more interested in the students being motivated into a field in which in the future they are productive citizens. I am more interested in the long run of life. An ACT ranking is about as valid as that ESPN poll.

By: Mike Burch on 8/24/11 at 7:51

To say that the ACT has "no value" seems silly to me. I had extremely high scores on the ACT. That was no accident: I was the smartest student at my high school. In college, I was the guy all the pretty computer science majors wanted to partner with, because they knew I'd get them an A on programming projects. When people copied someone's test when the professor's back was turned, I was the one they copied. I ended up owning a computer software company and have been published more than 1,000 times in TIME, USA Today, the Washington Times, Writer's Digest and hundreds of literary journals.

I'd say high ACT scores demonstrate the ability to learn, the way low 40-yard dash times indicate the ability to run fast.

The simple fact is that Tennessee schools are substandard. I went to schools in California and Germany (US military) before returning for my last four years of high school in North Carolina and Tennessee. I was far ahead of the other students. I'd say the schools were probably at least two years behind.

There is no surprise that Tennessee is 49th out of 50 states in terms of ACT scores. Students in other states and countries are getting better educations.

By: budlight on 8/25/11 at 7:14

bfra on 8/24/11 at 10:40
That doesn't mean the children in private schools are any smarter, they just have a better advantage of learning. Teach in English and leave it up to the hispanic parents to have their children prepared to start school. Why should English speaking children be held back because of language and that is exactly what public schools are doing. These high tech educators, supposedly (shcool board & Register) seem to be under educated!

bfra, you are correct when you say English speaking children are held back. I have spoken to high school students who say learning is distracted when the class is being taught in English AND Spanish and there is an interpretor. It's sad. The spanish speaking (or other) should learn English BEFORE they are placed in the classroom with English speaking people. It is just common sense.

By: VandyJD11 on 8/25/11 at 7:56

If you look at the data online, there is actually an explanation for why the state of TN and MS rank so much lower. In TN and in MS, 100% of public school students are required to take the ACT whereas states that ranked high (ie-MA, CT, NY) only about 22% of the students took the ACT. Thus in states like MA, CT, NY, the only students taking the ACT are ones who are planning (and most likely have a chance) of getting into college and so they will tend to have much higher scores which will drive up the average. Whereas in TN you increase the amount of people taking the test and thus the average will be lower. I guarantee if you required those high ranking states to all take the ACT, their averages would be significantly lower. So all these people on here claiming that the South is so much dumber than the northeast need to examine the data further and see why it is that southern states like TN and MS rank so much lower. I'm not making excuses, but I just don't think the discrepancies between states are not as stark as some of you are making it out to be. The achievement gap in public education are a national problem and not just limited to southern states.

By: bfra on 8/25/11 at 8:46

Would love to see honest scores, if Karl, Register & school board members took the ACT test, without cheating!

By: RTungsten on 8/25/11 at 9:13

You do realize that some people learn a little bit after taking the ACT, right?

By: Balo on 8/25/11 at 1:37

To Mike:

Congratulations on a great career. From your words, you have achieved a great deal.

You did not need an ACT score to validate your accomplishments. You took your knowledge and most important your work ethic to achieve your career goals. The test scores are worthless and do not indicate the hard work ethic that is needed to be successful. A strong work ethic is always the trump card. I know many individuals who seem to fall short of your scores, but are equally as productive in their careers, me included.

In my career, it was all about work habits and not your ACT score.