NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Grades Rise While College Test Scores Languish

August 15, 2001

Student scores on the American College Testing (ACT) Assessment have remained steady the past five years. But high schools have been reporting rising grade point averages. This disconnect reveals a growing tendency for teachers and schools to inflate grades, according to a new report from ACT.

The trend coincides with a movement by colleges away from an emphasis on ACT evaluations and those of rival SAT scores. Colleges are increasingly giving more weight to grade-point averages in admissions decisions.

  • For the high school class of 2001, the ACT average composite score was 21 out of a possible 36 -- unchanged since 1997.
  • But from 1996 to 2001, grade-point averages reported by schools have gone from 3.14 -- out of 4.0 -- to 3.22.
  • Some 14 percent of students earned a composite score of 27 or better on the 2001 ACT evaluations -- sufficient to satisfy highly selective schools.
  • The report states that nearly 18 percent of the 1.1 million students who took the ACT test are not ready for college work.

Some 82 percent of test takers scored 17 or higher, while 44 percent scored 22 percent or higher.

Source: Tamara Henry, "Report Detects High School Grade Inflation," USA Today, August 15, 2001.

For ACT reports


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