Wisconsin's ACT ranking expected to drop next year

Thumbnail for Class of 2014 ACT scores

GREEN BAY - Wisconsin maintained its number two ranking in the nation for the ACT college readiness test. However, a change in state testing standards could drop Wisconsin from the elite.

Next year, for the first time, all 11th grade students in Wisconsin will be required to take the ACT.

History shows that will drop Wisconsin in the national ranks, but test officials say the move has plenty of benefit.

From Wisconsin's high school class of 2014, 73 percent of graduates chose to fill in the bubbles of the ACT College Readiness Test. They put Wisconsin second in the nation among states for average composite score of states with at least 50 percent participation, only behind Minnesota.

Wisconsin was also more than a point above the national average.

This year, none of the twelve states who require statewide ACT testing were above the national average.

“We tend to see an initial drop in scores and it's really important when an initiative like this starts to make sure that people don't misinterpret that as a drop in performance, but really just a shift in expectations,” said Paul Weeks, the VP of client relations for ACT.

Green Bay's public school district already anticipates a drop. The district's director of assessments says the district typically has 50 to 60 percent participation.

“We might see a little bit of a dip in our scores, but we are trusting that the curriculum that we developed will prepare kids to be successful,” said Stephen Miller, the district’s director of assessments.

Illinois moved to statewide ACT testing for the class of 2002. Its average score dropped 1.5 points. But ACT officials say states tend to rebound after a first-year drop.

“More importantly they've got a data point on all of their students and have a much truer indication of the readiness of the emerging pipeline of students that are going into higher education or the workforce,” said Weeks.

Wisconsin's 22.2 average is out of a possible 36. The average is up a tenth of a point from last year.