Don't get all worked up over lower math scores on ACT tests

Tuesday, October 23, 2018
 | 
Bob Kellogg (OneNewsNow.com)

standardized testsACT test results released last week show math scores at a 14-year low – but an education analyst tells OneNewsNow that he's not as concerned by this as he once may have been.

ACT.org reports 40 percent of the nearly two-million graduating students who took the test were meeting the benchmark, down from 46 percent in 2012. "The negative trend in math readiness is a red flag for our country, given the growing importance of math and science skills in the increasingly tech-driven U.S. and global job market," ACT CEO Marten Roorda reacted. "It is vital that we turn this trend around for the next generation and make sure students are learning the math skills they need for success in college and career."

Neal McCluskey of the Cato Institute says the recent results aren't necessarily a crisis as some are saying.

"And while all things being equal we'd like to see test scores rise, I don't think all things are equal," he explains. "We are learning that tests are not nearly as important and as informative as we once thought they were."

McCluskey, Neal (Cato Institute)He says if you'd asked him ten years ago about such scores he would have said that it is a terrible sign. "But I think we've learned a lot as a country over the last decade or so that says maybe this isn't a terrible sign," he concludes.

McCluskey wrote last week that it "may be just fine" that Americans are not nearly as geared toward academic achievement – "especially, perhaps, as measured by standardized tests" – as people in other countries. "While our scores languish, emerging research suggests that they may be poor predictors of futures success," he states.

And it's "not necessarily a bad thing," he adds, that test scores may have dropped because the American education system "is less fixated" on raising those scores.

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