Wake-up call on ACT results in NC

National standardized tests on a broad range of subjects for high school students may not be definitive, but in the case of the ACT, the news isn’t good for North Carolina.

The state requires all students, not just those who are college-bound, to take the test, so the average score may tend to be lower. But a sound educational system ought to aim higher than the scores returned by this state’s students.

The highest score on each section of the test, which measures English, reading, math and science, is 36. The national average in English was 20.4; math, 20.8; reading, 21.4; and science, 20.9. What ACT calls the composite was 21.

In North Carolina, the average in those subjects was 17.6, 19.5, 19.2 and 19, with a composite of 19. That was tied with Mississippi.

The head of ACT, Jon Whitmore, said, “The needle is barely moving on college and career readiness, and that means far too many young people will continue to struggle after they graduate from high schools. This should be a wake-up call for our nation.”

He wasn’t talking about just North Carolina, but alarms should be ringing for education officials, who rightly complain of inadequate resources but stand responsible to some degree for these scores, and for legislators who are not providing the money needed to fund courses, hire the best teachers and see to it that all students have something meaningful when they get a high school diploma in this state.

Parents need to start a raucous crusade for investment that will produce better schools in North Carolina. The proof of such a need is mounting.