CONYERS — The 2020 graduating class in Rockdale County Public Schools increased its average composite score on the ACT by eight-tenths of a point, with each high school showing improvement in its average score.

Scores released Wednesday by the Georgia Department of Education showed that Rockdale students scored an average of 19.6 points, compared to 18.8 in 2019. The state’s average score for 2020 is 21.7, which exceeds the national average score of 20.6.

The number of test-takers in Rockdale Public Schools decreased in 2020, with 397 taking the test compared to 542 in 2019.

“I commend our 2020 graduates on their stellar ACT achievement accounting for RCPS’ highest composite ACT performance in nearly eight years,” said Superintendent Dr. Terry Oatts. “What a remarkably resilient and determined graduation class! As a district, we remain committed to enhancing our students’ college and career readiness by affording them challenging and rigorous curriculum. Our most recent College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) score showed an increase in the Readiness component across all levels and mirrors our college readiness gains as measured by the current ACT results.”

Oatts said the school system began administering the pre-ACT to all sophomores last year in order to expose students to the types of questions on the exam and better prepare them to take the test.

“While no singular college entrance exam is definitively indicative of a student’s first year college success, we will continue to support our students’ aspirations by strengthening our advisement system and providing our students with the support necessary to be successful in their postsecondary pursuits,” said Oatts.

Students at Rockdale County High School, which includes the Rockdale Career Academy for Science and Technology, posted the highest ACT scores in the school system in 2020 and the greatest increase over the previous year with a composite of 20.9, an increase of 1 point over 2019. Test-takers totaled 205 in 2020, compared to 214 in 2019.

Salem High School’s composite score showed the next-greatest increase over 2019, going from 16.7 to 17.4 in 2020. Seventy-five Salem students took the test in 2020, compared to 121 in 2019.

The composite score for Heritage High test-takers remained relatively constant, with a score of 18.8 in 2020 and 18.7 in 2019. A total of 117 Heritage students took the test in 2020, with 206 taking it in 2019.

RCPS created academic rigor maps as basic guides for students and parents to choose the best pathway for college and career readiness. Each middle and high school has the brochures available, which can also be found at www.rockdaleschools.org under Academics and Support. For more information about the ACT and test preparation, please visit www.act.org.

Statewide, Georgia’s class of 2020 continued a five-year trend of outpacing the nation on the ACT, with the state’s average score increasing as the national average dropped.

Georgia’s average composite score for the class of 2020 was 21.7, up from the 2019 score of 21.4 in 2019 and higher, for the fifth year in a row, than the national average of 20.6. The national average dropped from 20.7 in 2019 to 20.6 in 2020.

In addition, statewide scores in each subject area area increased and were higher than the national average.

“I am always glad to see Georgia students succeeding, but there’s something special about the class of 2020’s accomplishments,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “These students, who saw their senior year come to an abrupt halt due to a global pandemic, have now outscored their peers across the nation on both the SAT and ACT. To say I’m proud of them would be an understatement. Georgia continues to exceed expectations on state and national metrics and show that you don’t have to be all about the test to provide a first-class education. That’s thanks to the teachers and students doing the work each day on the classroom level.”

The percentage of Georgia students in the class of 2020 meeting all four of ACT’s College Readiness benchmarks – 30% – was also higher than the national average of 26%, and increased in all subject areas.

College Readiness benchmarks are scores on the ACT subject-area tests that represent the level of achievement required for students to have a 50% chance of obtaining a B or higher, or about a 75% chance of obtaining a C or higher, in corresponding credit-bearing first-year college courses.

Georgia’s 2020 ACT scores also brought positive news in the area of equity, as the state’s Black and Hispanic/Latino students outscored their peers across the nation. Black/African American students had an average composite score of 18.2, compared to the national average of 16.7. Hispanic/Latino students had an average composite score of 20.9, compared to the national average of 18.5.

All scores are based on 2020 high school graduates who took the ACT at some time from grades 10 to 12.

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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