Scores on the ACT test for both Mississippi high school juniors and seniors decreased from last year, according to data released by the Mississippi Department of Education.

The average composite scores for Mississippi juniors who took the test declined from 17.8 in 2018 to 17.6 in 2019, while the percentage of juniors who met the minimum for all four benchmarks (English, mathematics, reading and science) remained at 9 percent.

Mississippi is one of 15 states that administers the ACT to all of its high school graduates. Mississippi seniors scored an average of 18.1, down slightly from last year’s 18.3.

In 2018, 38 percent of juniors in Mississippi met the standard for English. In 2019, that number increased slightly to 39 percent. Also up was reading (up one point to 24 percent of juniors meeting the standard) and a three-point improvement in science (18 percent of juniors met the standard). 

Only 15 percent of 2019 juniors met the standard for math, down from 18 percent in 2018. 

Out of the 29,817 juniors that took the test in 2019 in Mississippi, only 2,683 met the standards in all four areas, which is a good indicator of the readiness to take on college-level work. Last year, it was 2,812 out of 31,254 juniors statewide. 

Only Nevada (17.9 composite average) scored worse than Mississippi among the states that administer the test to 80 percent or more of its graduates. 

Only 46 percent of Mississippi seniors met the standard for English (tied with Hawaii for third lowest), 29 percent met the benchmark for reading (second from the bottom), 20 percent met the math standard (worst among the 80 percent testing states) and 19 percent met the standard for science, tied for last with Nevada.

One interesting trend is how juniors in A-rated and F-rated districts compared. Of the 31 A-rated districts in Mississippi, 12 had their composite scores dip in 2019 from 2018. Ten of those were 0.5 points or more. 

The Oxford School District had the biggest drop among the A-rated districts, sliding from 22 in 2018 to 20.9 in 2019.

The biggest increase was the Lafayette County School District, whose ACT score composites went up from 18.2 to 19.5.

Of the 19 F-rated districts, only seven had gains from 2018 to 2019. Two districts, had losses of a point or more. The Humphreys County School District had the biggest drop, sliding from a composite of 15 in 2018 to 13.9 in 2019.