Massachusetts Students Earn Top Score on ACT Test- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Contact:JC Considine 781-338-3112

Massachusetts Students Earn Top Score on ACT Test

MALDEN - Massachusetts students in the graduating class of 2013 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 this year's ACT results, which were released today, Massachusetts 2013 public and private high school graduates had an average composite score of 24.1 out of a possible 36, same as last year (24.1) and higher than in 2009 (23.9). The national average was 20.9, which was a slight decrease from last year (21.1). In addition, 46 percent of Massachusetts graduates met all four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, up from last year (44 percent) and above the national average (26 percent).

"I commend our students and teachers for the hard work and dedication that made it possible to achieve these impressive scores," said Governor Deval Patrick. "We lead the nation because we know that investing in education is the single most important investment government can make in our collective future. I am proud of the progress we have made, but we have more work to do to close the achievement gap and give all of our students the opportunity to reach their full potential."

"Today's results show that Massachusetts continues to lead the way in public education," said Secretary of Education Matthew Malone. "But even as we celebrate this news, we recognize we can't rest on our laurels; there is more work to be done. Our efforts and energy must be clearly focused on helping all students excel at the highest level possible."

"I am pleased with our strong student performance on the ACT, but also eager to see more students meet the college and career ready benchmarks," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "We are raising the bar in Massachusetts by developing a next generation assessment system that gives students a clear signal about their readiness for success after high school. In addition, by implementing our new educator evaluator system, we are supporting the efforts of our educators to help every student graduate on-time and ready for success after high school."

While the majority of Massachusetts graduates continue to take the SAT, a growing number are also opting to take the ACT. Statewide, 16,058 public and private school students, or an estimated 22 percent of the 2013 graduating class, took the ACT test during high school. Between 2009 and 2013, the number of ACT test-taking graduates in Massachusetts has grown by 22.6 percent.

Despite strong performance in the aggregate, not all students are achieving at the same level. The percent of Massachusetts students in the 2013 graduating class who met all four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks was 51 percent for Asian students, 49 percent for white students, 26 percent for Hispanic/Latino students, and 15 percent for black/African American students. 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 first-year 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. In May 2013, the Administration convened a summit of more than 500 education and workforce leaders from across the Commonwealth to discuss the tools necessary to prepare children for college and career success. In addition, 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. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is also working to implement the recommendations of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's Task Force for the Integration of College and Career Readiness, which issued a report and recommendations in June 2012.

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 (24.1), followed by Connecticut (24.0), New Hampshire (23.8), Maine (23.5), and New York (23.4).
  • On the four subject area tests, Massachusetts had the highest percent of 2013 graduates meeting the ACT benchmark in Mathematics (72 percent); tied for first in Reading (66 percent) with Connecticut; was second in English (84 percent) along with New Hampshire and behind only Connecticut (86 percent); and was second in Science (55 percent) behind only Connecticut (56 percent).
  • Graduates of Massachusetts public high schools performed similarly to the combined results for Massachusetts public and private schools. Massachusetts 2013 public school graduates had an average composite score of 23.8, which was similar to last year's result. In 2013, 45 percent of graduates of Massachusetts public high schools who were tested met all four ACT College Readiness Benchmark scores.
  • This is the first year that ACT included and reported results for students who received extended time during testing. In Massachusetts, five percent of the 16,058 students who participated statewide received extended time. Students who received extended time had an average composite score of 23.4, compared to 24.1 for students who participated in a standard time session.

For more information on ACT, visit

Last Updated: August 21, 2013

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