Idaho ACT scores up slightly in 2019

Idaho students’ scores on the ACT improved slightly this year and topped national averages, though only about a third of Gem State students take the test.

All told for the class of 2019, some 6,400 Idaho students took the ACT test, with an average composite score of 22.5 out of a perfect score of 36. Averages were up for composite, math, reading, and science, while English was unchanged.

The ACT also assigns college-readiness benchmarks to the test scores. 73 percent of Idaho graduates hit the benchmark in English, while 47 percent met the threshold in science. 35 percent of Idaho graduates met all four subject benchmarks, and 21 percent hit none.

Demographic gaps were fairly wide as white graduates posted an average score of 23, Hispanic graduates 19.4, and Native American graduates averaged 17.3.

The ACT is one of several college placement exams available to high school students, and all Idaho students need to take one of the exams in order to graduate high school. However, the ACT is not Idaho’s college entrance exam of choice, as most Idaho high school juniors opt for the SAT, which can be taken during the school day and at taxpayer expense. Idaho’s ACT cohort tends to be much smaller, and skews toward higher-achieving and college-bound students.

This year, 46 percent of Idaho’s ACT test-takers say they plan to pursue a bachelor’s degree while 37 percent plan to seek an advanced degree — numbers that far exceed Idaho’s low college go-on rates.

Idaho is investing tens of millions of dollars to try to encourage more high school graduates to continue their education. (