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Education Is More Than Just ACT Scores

Some more education numbers are in, and they don’t look good.

According to a report by Will Sentell of The Advocate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is ranked 49th in the nation on the ACT, a test of college readiness, down from 45th last year. Sentell based his story on results released Tuesday.

The composite score on the ACT was 18.8, down from 19.2 last year and 19.5 the year before, when the state was ranked 43rd nationally, Sentell wrote.

“The results, which include both public and private high school students, rates what students know in English, math, science, and reading. Results are based on a scale of 1-36.”

The ACT results provide a snapshot of the total education picture in Louisiana, not just public schools. But, as with any other measure, the ACT cannot completely gauge the quality of education, nor how to improve it.

So many factors are a part of a child’s education. While many are quick to point the finger at the quality of teachers and school systems, factors like home environment, class size, socioeconomic climate are often overlooked. 

The ACT is not a nationally required test, either. In many states, only college-bound students take the exam.

“State education leaders are quick to note that Louisiana is one of just 15 states where all high school students are required to take the ACT,” Sentell wrote.

“Louisiana ranked 13th of 15 among those states, ahead of only Mississippi and Nevada. Nationally, the 18.8 composite average is tied with South Carolina.”

That may be somewhat of a factor among the top states’ scores.

“Connecticut and Massachusetts are tied for No. 1 nationally on ACT results – 25.5. A total of 22% and 21% of students, respectively, took the test in those states,” Sentell wrote.

While the ranking is somewhat unfair, it does produce some insight. In fact, the folks with the ACT have a suggestion.

The key to getting the best results is a rigorous high school curriculum, said Marten Roorda, chief executive officer of the ACT, which is located in Iowa City, Iowa.

‘’Students who don’t take challenging courses – particularly those from underserved populations – may lack the self-confidence and ambition to do so, and social and emotional learning instruction can help them improve in those areas,’’ Roorda said in a statement.

Like it or not, we live at a time where rankings and scores matter to progress in a community. While every student may not be college-bound, nor should they be, all students’ performance affects the perception of the quality of education.

We must change the narrative in education. For too long, the goal of many in education was college preparation. That simply isn’t the world in which we live now.

With the rise of skilled labor needs, coupled with an explosion of entrepreneurship, traditional education routes only meet a fraction of the potential market.

Perhaps a better measuring stick of the quality of education is the number of people in good-paying jobs after they complete their education, whatever level that may be.

Times are changing fast. Our education systems and their assessments need to change as well.