Florida at Back of the Pack in ACT Scores

By: Allison Nielsen | Posted: August 21, 2014 3:55 AM
Standardized test

Florida’s education system may have undergone changes in leaps and bounds over the last decade, but according to ACT test scores released Wednesday, Florida’s high schoolers are severely unprepared for college.

Out of all 50 states (and the District of Columbia), Florida’s graduating class of 2014 fell to the back of the pack.

The Sunshine State ranked 47th in the nation on the ACT, a standardized test which measures students’ educational development as well as their capability to complete college-level work. Florida placed above Hawaii, Mississippi, North Carolina and Louisiana.

Many states in the Northeast had higher scores than the national average, with Massachusetts taking the No. 1 slot.

According to the report, the average ACT score in Florida was 19.6 out of 36, nearly 1.5 points lower than the national composite average of 21.

This number has remained unchanged from last year’s report.

For the last decade, Florida has consistently ranked in the mid-to-bottom 40s in composite scores.

To opponents of high-stakes testing, the results are a symbol of a deeper issue and indicate a systematic failure in the nation’s education system as well as too great a focus on standardized testing.

“The lack of progress toward excellence and equity will provide further ammunition for the country’s growing testing resistance and reform movement,” said FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer. “Ending the counterproductive fixation on standardized exams is necessary to create the space for better assessments that actually enhance learning and teaching.”

But despite Florida’s lackluster performance, there’s still a silver lining in the report -- more students than ever are taking the admissions test, which indicates a greater interest in continuing on to heading to college.

Over half of the country’s 2014 graduates (57 percent) opted to take the ACT, a 3 percent increase from last year.

In Florida, over 5,000 more students took the exam in 2014 than in the previous year.

““In today’s global economy, it is more important than ever for individuals to continue their education beyond high school,” said Jon Whitmore, ACT chief executive officer. “The skills needed to compete in the job market are becoming increasingly advanced.”

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen via email at or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen

Comments (2)

8:42AM AUG 21ST 2014
The results displaying just how poorly those in charge in the past AND present, have done regarding education, these results are, or should be criminal, with the perpetraters (Governors,education chiefs, AND legislators) being charged with extreme negligence and failure to perform their official duties. This state has been under Republican rule far too long and we're now seeing the results of their negligence! Rather than performing their duties in representing their constituents, they have participated in foolish, political games supporting the charges of malfeasance which should be brought against each and every one of them. Hopefully, the citizens and taxpayers of Florida will demand this problem be immediately corrected first, by eliminating those in charge and in support of the way things are, bringing in new and educated people who are results oriented and willing to make the sorely needed changes in our entire system. Mr. James is correct in his comments. For too many years I have heard this beautiful state referred to as FloriDUH. Enough is enough. Make the changes, fix our educational system and PUNISH those in leadership who failed to provide us what we needed. Our children's education!
SHAME upon Jeb Bush, Rick Scott, even Charlie Crist and the leadership in our Legislature.
Tom James
7:54AM AUG 21ST 2014
This illustrates the failures of the Jeb Bush/Rick Scott/Repubican education agenda.
It's time to send Jeb, Rick and crew packing. FloriDUH has become the laughing stock of the nation due to these clowns.

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