ACT scores released last week for Arkansas’ 2021 graduating class held steady compared to results from 2020, said the Arkansas Department of Education.

A total of 31,152 public school students who graduated in 2021 took the ACT at least once. While this is a decrease of 1,360 from the previous year, this number represents approximately 97 percent of the graduating class.

The average ACT scores and percent of students who met readiness benchmarks were stable as well. Arkansas provides all 11th-grade students the opportunity to take the ACT during the spring of their junior year at no charge to the student.

Students are encouraged to take the test multiple times, as scores typically increase the more times a student takes the test. The results for the 2021 graduating class, however, largely reflect testing that occurred in the spring of 2020, prior to COVID-19’s disruption to student learning and testing.

“While the effects of COVID-19 may not be fully reflected in these scores, the pandemic definitely limited the number of opportunities typically available for graduating seniors who choose to take the ACT multiple times,” Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key said.

“These additional opportunities would have been included in the data and provided a better reflection of student achievement for the 2021 graduating class. Even without a clear picture, we know that we still have work to do. Through local and statewide efforts that are currently under way, we hope to accelerate student learning and prepare students for a very successful future despite the pandemic.”

Summary of Arkansas’ Results (data compared to 2020):

The percent of students who met all four readiness benchmarks (Reading, English, Math, and Science) remained the same (14 percent). The average composite score also remained the same (18.8).

Average composite scores for each of the four subject areas changed little, with slight decreases in English, Math, and Reading and a small increase in Science. The average composite score for Arkansas students who retested in 2021 was 21.3 compared to 16.8 for students who only took the test once.

Qualifying students used 8,943 testing fee waivers (an increase of 289), giving them the opportunity to take the ACT multiple times at no cost.

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