ACT released their report on the performance of the 2020 graduating class today. Minnesota received a very Minnesota report. The good news? Minnesota continues to lead the nation in ACT scores among states that like us test high percentage of students. The bad news? While Students of Color and Indigenous students in Minnesota do better than their peers nationally, we have persistent and significant racial disparities in scores. Overall scores are largely unchanged over the past five years.
Minnesota students averaged a score of 21.3, out of a total possible score of 36, down 0.1 from 2019. Black/African American students averaged an overall score of 17, American Indian/Alaska Native students 17.1, White students 22.5, Hispanic/Latino students 18.3, Asian students 20.6, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander students 19.0, students reporting two or more races averaged a score of 20.9.
ACT has four college ready benchmarks in English, Reading, Math and Science. Minnesota students outperformed their national peers with 43% of Minnesota students meeting or exceeding the benchmarks on three or four measures where nationally 37% of test takers met the benchmarks. Additionally, ACT has a more rigorous STEM preparation benchmark for those anticipating entering an engineering or other STEM program in college. On that measure 24% of Minnesota test-takers met or exceeded that measure compared to 20% of the national peers. These benchmark measures are again largely unchanged over the past five years.
One thing of note is that over the past five years Minnesota has seen a somewhat steady decrease of roughly 7,000 students taking the test. This even though the number of 11th graders in the state has increased 4% over that same 2016-2020 time period. While the cause of this decrease in test taking is unknown the legislature did change its policy and state support for ACT test costs by school districts in 2017. Before that the state reimbursed districts for all 11th graders taking the ACT or SAT; a 2017 change limited the reimbursement to only students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch service, a generally used test of poverty.