Students in the Atlanta Public Schools district increased the average ACT score this year to 19.1, up 0.4 points from 2018 and the highest in recent history, according to data released by the Georgia Department of Education Oct. 30.

But the Atlanta district remains below the state and national averages of 21.4 and 20.7, respectively, and its neighboring major districts’ averages. Atlanta’s score was under the districts in Cobb (23.0), DeKalb (19.9), Fulton (23.9) and Gwinnett (22.4) counties.

According to a news release, the percentage of 2019 Atlanta district graduates taking the ACT decreased compared to 2018, from 72% to 52%. ACT participation among 2019 graduates also declined at the state and national levels.

“We are proud of these students achieving the highest ACT scores in recent APS history,” Atlanta Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said in a news release. “While we saw a decline in ACT participation, we have actually seen a dramatic increase in the total number of college entrance exams taken. As we reported earlier this month, we engaged in a simple and targeted initiative with SAT School Day in 2018, which allowed all juniors to take the SAT exam at their home school during a normal school day, removing funding and transportation barriers for many students.”

The Atlanta district’s class of 2019 was the first cohort to participate in SAT School Day, sponsored by Achieve Atlanta, which paid for all of the tests. The initiative resulted in 90% of 2019 graduates taking the SAT, nearly 900 students more than the class of 2018. As such, for the first time since the redesigned SAT in 2016, more graduates took the SAT than the ACT.

Three Atlanta district high schools exceeded the national average: Grady (23.1), North Atlanta (22.2) and Drew Charter (21.1). Grady and North Atlanta also scored above the state average. Buckhead’s other public high school, Atlanta Classical, had 15 or less students take the test, not enough to compile an average score.

Georgia’s score was identical to 2018 and remained above the national average of 20.7, according to a news release from the state. Georgia also outshined the nation in English, reading, science, and mathematics. Overall, Georgia is tied for 23rd in the nation on the ACT, up from 24th in 2018.

“I’m extremely proud of our Georgia students – and the educators who prepare them each day – for beating the nation on the ACT once again,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said in a news release. “I want to emphasize that this is only the fourth time in state history this has been accomplished. While there is still work to be done to ensure we are offering a well-rounded education and preparing every child for their next steps after high school, Georgia’s students and teachers continue achieve unprecedented success.”

All scores are based on 2019 high school graduates who took the ACT at some time from grade 10 to 12.

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