LAS VEGAS — Nevada students’ average score on the ACT is the worst in the nation, according to state-by-state analysis released Wednesday by the maker of the college entrance exam.
The average composite score of Nevada students in the Class of 2016 was 17.7 out of 36. That’s the lowest among the 18 states that try to test all high school students before they graduate, as well as among states where fewer take the test and scores trend higher.
Carson City School District’s composite score was higher than the state average at 17.955.
“They’re not acceptable. I know we can do better,” state superintendent Steve Canavero said about the scores, which fell below those of other bottom-performing states including Mississippi and South Carolina.
While Nevada has an often transient student body with a significant percentage of students in poverty and learning English, “that cannot be an excuse that lets us gain comfort in our 17-point average,” he said.
For the past two years, the ACT results have shown that only about 10 percent of the Nevada test takers are college-ready in four key subjects. The “college-ready” designation indicates a student has a 50 percent chance of getting a B or higher in a corresponding college course.
Nevada law requires high school juniors to take the test, but it doesn’t allow the scores to decide whether a student will graduate. Nevada tested 32,261 students in the graduating Class of 2016, up from about 9,308 before the test was mandatory and free.
“We now have more than three times as many students taking the ACT and for many I believe this will help define college as an opportunity they might not have considered,” Canavero said.
When partial ACT data for Nevada was released in July, Canavero praised Gov. Brian Sandoval and the Legislature for approving and funding improvements to the state’s school system last year that are just now being implemented.
“We believe that these efforts will have a positive impact on our students’ preparation and thus ACT scores,” he said. “But, we also know that many high school students will miss out on the reforms targeted at the early grades and can’t wait for us to figure out college and career readiness in the distant future. Their future is now.”