For Immediate Release - August 20, 2014

Massachusetts Students Earn Top Score on ACT Test

MALDEN – Massachusetts high school students in the graduating class of 2014 earned the top score in the nation on the ACT test, an annual predictive measure of college and career readiness for many high school graduates, according to results released today.

According to this year's ACT results, Massachusetts 2014 public and private high school graduates had an average composite score of 24.3 out of a possible 36, up from last year (24.1). The national average was 21.0, which was a slight increase from last year (20.9). In addition, 47 percent of Massachusetts graduates met all four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, up from last year (46 percent) and above the national average (26 percent).

"Through hard work, dedication and determination, our students are once again leading the nation in education," said Governor Deval Patrick. "While there is still more work to do to give all students the opportunity to reach their fullest potential, I am proud of the progress we have made."

"Today’s results once again remind us that Massachusetts is a national leader and that our teachers and school leaders are having a powerful influence on our students," said Secretary of Education Matthew Malone. "Our focus and energy must remain on helping all of our students excel at the highest levels possible."

"I am happy to see our students at the top of the ACT results and am particularly pleased to see an increased percentage meet the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester. "I hope that percentage will continue to grow as the state implements improved learning standards and as we work to better align our state assessments with college and career readiness."

While the majority of Massachusetts graduating seniors continue to take the SAT, a growing number are taking the ACT. Students can choose to take both tests, either test or neither. Statewide, more than 16,500 public and private school students, or an estimated 23 percent of the 2014 graduating class, took the ACT during high school. Between 2010 and 2014, the number of ACT-taking graduates in Massachusetts has grown by 13 percent.

In addition to the state's strong performance in the aggregate, most of the state's largest racial and ethnic groups saw higher percentages meet all four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks compared to last year. Hispanic/Latino students, in particular, saw a gain of 3 percentage points. The percent of Massachusetts students in the 2014 graduating class who met all four benchmarks was 53 percent for Asian students (compared to 51 percent in 2013), 50 percent for white students (49 percent in 2013), 29 percent for Hispanic/Latino students (26 percent in 2013), and 14 percent for black/African American students (15 percent in 2013). The ACT College Readiness Benchmarks are scores on the ACT subject area tests (English, Mathematics, Reading, Science) that represent the level of achievement for students to have a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or higher in corresponding credit-bearing college courses.

The Patrick Administration has made closing the achievement gap a top priority by providing additional resources and developing innovative strategies to ensure every student across the Commonwealth has the supports he or she needs to succeed in the classroom. The Administration is spearheading efforts around three initiatives related to career pathways for students: the Career Academies Planning Grant Program, the Commonwealth's participation in the Pathways to Prosperity Network, and the Career Pathways Models with Community Colleges.

Other ACT results for Massachusetts students included:

  • Among states where less than a third of graduates participated in the ACT, Massachusetts had the top average composite score (24.3), followed by Connecticut and New Hampshire (both 24.2), Maine (23.6) and New York (23.4).
  • On the four subject area tests, Massachusetts had the highest percent of 2014 graduates meeting the ACT benchmark in Mathematics (72 percent); was second in English (85 percent) behind only Connecticut and New Hampshire (both 86 percent); was second in Reading (65 percent) along with Connecticut and behind New Hampshire (66 percent); and was second in Science (58 percent) behind Connecticut and New Hampshire (both 59 percent).

Graduates of Massachusetts public high schools performed similarly to the combined results for Massachusetts public and private schools. Massachusetts 2014 public school graduates had an average composite score of 24.1, which was slightly higher than last year's results. In 2014, 47 percent of graduates of Massachusetts public high schools who were tested met all four ACT College Readiness Benchmark scores.

For more information on ACT, visit http://www.act.org.