The Potluck

ACT participation declined among Minnesota seniors in 2021

By: - October 13, 2021 2:45 pm

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Sixty percent of Minnesota high school seniors took the ACT in spring 2021, down from more than 90% in recent years, the Minnesota Department of Education announced Wednesday.

The participation decline among the graduating class of 2021 was due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted the graduating class’s junior and senior years, according to MDE. The statewide average composite score increased slightly, from 21.3 in 2020 to 21.6 in 2021. 

The difficulties of conducting standardized tests during the pandemic pushed many colleges to drop ACT and SAT from their admissions requirements, which could also play a role in Minnesota’s falling ACT participation. The University of Minnesota, for example, decided to make ACT or SAT scores optional for 2021 and 2022 applicants.

The decline comes amid a national backlash and debate about standardized testing, with many college and university admissions programs making the tests optional. 

Minnesota had the ninth-highest participation rate among the states, excepting those that require all students to take the ACT or offer it to all students at school.

In 22 states, at least 50% of students took the ACT. Minnesota tied with South Dakota for the highest average composite score among them, followed by Missouri and Utah.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.