Arkansas' ACT college entrance exam scores are lowest in at least a decade

A student looks at questions during a standardized college test preparation class at Holton Arms School in Bethesda, Md., in this Jan. 17, 2016 file photo. The SAT exam moved to a digital format in 2022, while the ACT exam still gives students the option of either pencil and paper, or digital. (AP/Alex Brandon)
A student looks at questions during a standardized college test preparation class at Holton Arms School in Bethesda, Md., in this Jan. 17, 2016 file photo. The SAT exam moved to a digital format in 2022, while the ACT exam still gives students the option of either pencil and paper, or digital. (AP/Alex Brandon)

Students in Arkansas' high school Class of 2023 earned a composite score of 18.6 on the ACT college entrance exam — the lowest composite score in at least 10 years, down from the 18.8 earned by the state's Class of 2022.

The highest possible ACT score is a 36.

The Arkansas composite — made up of English, math, reading  and science results — remained below the national composite, which is 19.5 for the Class of 2023. That national composite is down from 19.8 in the 2022 high school graduating class.

In 2014 and again in 2015, the composite score for the state was 20.4 on the scale of 1 to 36. The national composite was 21.0 in those two years.

Arkansas' 31,642 Class of 2023 test-takers earned an average:

— 18 on the English portion of the test, down from 18.3 the previous year and below the 18.6 earned nationally.

— 17.8 on the math section, down from 18.1 previously in Arkansas and 19 nationally.

— 19 on the reading test, down from 19.2 for Arkansas' Class of 2022 and 20.1 nationally.

— 18.9 in science, down from 19.1 previously and under the 19.6 earned nationally.

Test producer ACT Inc. reported that 31,642 of Arkansas' newly minted high school graduates took the exam before graduation, or about 96% of the total graduating class.

More details in Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.