One of the most common questions that parents and educators ask when they receive their seventh grade students’ above level test scores from either the SAT or ACT as part of talent search participation is this: How much better will students do on this test in high school when they take it again?
To answer this question, a researcher at ACT recently analyzed the ACT scores of over 74,000 students from across the U.S. who took the ACT while in the seventh grade and then again in high school. According to the technical brief (which is only 2 pages long!), seventh grade students who took the ACT earned an average Composite score of 18 and then went on to average 27.7 in high school. (Of course, how much students could increase depended, in part, on how well they performed in seventh grade and how much room there was to improve.)
Using seventh grade Composite scores as a starting point, a table in the technical brief shows the mean and median high school scores based on performance in seventh grade. For example, the 9,331 students who earned an ACT Composite score of 18 in seventh grade had a mean ACT Composite score of 27.7 in high school, an increase of almost 10 points. As a reference point, in 2015, the mean ACT Composite score for high school students was 21.
Another theme that comes across is that students who scored relatively higher in seventh grade also tended to score relatively higher in high school as well. Such findings have been found fairly consistently across other studies of high performing students.