ACT Science: Florida still 50th in the nation

The state-by-state results on the ACT college placement test have been released (see the report from Leslie Postal at the Orlando Sentinel).  Florida maintains its rank of 50 (out of 51 states plus DC) on the ACT’s science section, ahead of only Mississippi.

The ACT science section is the most widely administered measurement of scientific literacy for new high school graduates in the US.  In Florida, 66% of new grads took the ACT.  Florida’s average score was 19.1.  A perfect score on the science section is 36.

In eight states, including Mississippi, every high school grad is required to take the ACT, and the test is used as a sort of graduate-level FCAT performance measure.

It’s not inappropriate to speculate that if every high school graduate in Florida took the ACT that the state’s average science score would decline, perhaps enough to fall below Mississippi.

Florida’s very poor performance on the ACT contrasts somewhat with its “average” ranking of 11th place in science and engineering readiness (see the Huffington Post story).  However, the Science and Engineering Readiness Index measures the performance of the upper crust of middle and high school students and their preparedness for a particularly demanding sector of the workforce.  The ACT measures the general science knowledge of a much broader spectrum of students and does not focus on the math and science skills needed by prospective scientists and engineers.

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4 Responses to ACT Science: Florida still 50th in the nation

  1. Michael Fauerbach says:

    Here’s a breakdown of how SWFL did. http://www.news-press.com/article/20110819/NEWS01/108190634/More-here-take-ACT-their-scores-fall?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Home|p
    Needless to say we did even worse than the State average. On the other hand, Lee County requires students who did not pass the FCAT to take the ACT in order to get a diploma. So, there’s a certain bias in the data. Still scary…

    • Doc Carr says:

      Thanks for that news story link.

      The part I found most interesting was that “The ACT scores to graduate in 2010-11 are 18 for reading and 15 for math.” I had always wondered what those numbers were, and it is interesting to see that it corresponds to placement in college-prep math classes at about the same level as we are used to seeing for minimal HS degrees.

      What I found disturbing was that the director of accountability said “Eighteen or 19 is probably a low score if you’re wanting to get into a selective college.” Sorry, but a 19 in math won’t even place you into college-level math at a community college (meaning 3+ semesters away from being “STEM ready”), so there must be some fairly non-selective selective colleges around this state.

      • Michael Fauerbach says:

        There are 18 students in my sons pre-calculus class. There is probably another section, but when we asked for at least an honors section, we were told that there was not enough student demand. So much for STEM ready…

  2. Pingback: Boston Herald editorial: K-12 Science Education Framework is “bewildering” « Bridge to Tomorrow

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