New national data from multiple sources further confirms learning loss and the the negative impact of the pandemic on academic performance across ages.
Lowest National Average ACT® Score in 30 Years
According to data recently published by the ACT, the national average composite ACT score for the class of 2022 was 19.8. This is the lowest average score in three decades and the first time the national ACT average has been below 20.0 since 1991.
Similarly, 42% of seniors meet none of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, up from 38% in 2021. Only 22% of students met all four college readiness benchmarks, down from 25% in 2021. These benchmarks are the minimum ACT scores required for students to have a high probability of success in a first-year college course. The benchmark scores are 18 on English, 22 on Math, 22 on Reading, and 23 on Science.
“This is the fifth consecutive year of declines in average scores, a worrisome trend that began long before the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has persisted,” said ACT CEO Janet Godwin. “The magnitude of the declines this year is particularly alarming, as we see rapidly growing numbers of seniors leaving high school without meeting the college-readiness benchmark in any of the subjects we measure. These declines are not simply a byproduct of the pandemic. They are further evidence of longtime systemic failures that were exacerbated by the pandemic.
National Average SAT® Score Down 10 Points From 2021
According to data from the College Board, the national average SAT score also dropped to 1050, down from 1060 in 2021. This is the lowest average score ever on this version of the SAT exam. 32% of students did not meet either of the SAT’s college readiness benchmarks, with the benchmarks being 480 on the Evidence Based Reading and Writing section and 530 on the Math section. This is also the highest this number has been on this version of the test.
Historic Declines Among 4th and 8th Graders
Learning loss is not only evident in high school students, but younger kids as well. New data published by the Federal government shows historic declines among 4th and 8th grade students in reading and math. Nationally, the average math score for 4th grade students fell five points from 2019, while the score for 8th grade students dropped eight points. In reading, average scores for both grades were down three points.
While both reading and math scores declined, this data recorded the largest-ever decline in math. These declines reflect what has long been suspected: pandemic-related interruptions to learning have negatively impacted student achievement.
According to Peggy Carr, Commissioner for the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), “the[se] results show the profound toll on student learning during the pandemic, as the size and scope of the declines are the largest ever in mathematics.”
What Does this Mean for Students?
While these declines in academic performance are grim, they are not unexpected given the setbacks and uncertainty caused by the pandemic. This new data confirms that students across elementary, middle, and high school do not have the same educational foundations as students did pre-pandemic.
Additional tutoring and test prep outside of school hours is now more important than ever. Research out of Brown University indicates that tutoring in small groups of up to three or four students that takes place multiple times a week with a consistent tutor produces learning gains for all students, including those who have fallen behind academically.
C2’s Class of 2022 students, all of whom were impacted by pandemic learning loss in their critical junior year of high school, are a shining example of the benefits of tutoring. Working with a C2 tutor multiple times a week with at most 2 other students, they reported an average ACT score of 29.2, which is the top 8% of test takers nationwide. C2 students also reported a very strong average SAT score of 1358, which is in the top 10% of all SAT test takers.