Knox County schools continue to see a rise in ACT scores with students showing an improvement on every section of the college readiness exam.

Hard work and dedication in the classroom are what Superintendent Bob Thomas says has attributed to students achieving better scores on the test. 

“They work extremely hard and I think the results are showing,” said Bob Thomas, the superintendent for Knox County Schools. “The curriculum is a little more demanding and the standards within the curriculum line up with the ACT.”

Students in Knox County earned a new average composite score of 21.4. That’s an improvement from the previous two years with a composite score of 21.1. The school district surpassing the state average of 20.2 on the test. 

“We’re excited to see the progress that we’re making and extremely proud of our teachers and our principals and our students for the work being done in our school district,” said Thomas. 

A total of 3,917 KCS students from the Class of 2018 took the ACT, with a participation rate of 99 percent. Of those students, 52.2 percent scored a 21 or higher, up from 51.1 percent in the previous year. A score of 21 or higher is necessary to be eligible for the HOPE Scholarship, a grant program that rewards students with financial assistance for college. 

Tennessee is the only state that pays for its students to take the exam twice. Thomas says the free re-do has helped students improve their scores over the years. 

“The more opportunities that a student gets to take the test, I think the research shows that there is a good chance of increase in the scores. That additional opportunity I think really pays off,” said Thomas. 

He adds that the scores also help the school district by showing future students that education is a top priority. 

“I think it really helps the community in terms of people who move to Knoxville and Knox County looking at the school system if they have children,” said Thomas. 

A breakdown of the ACT composite scores by subject: 

  • Math: 20.5 (2018) up from 20.2 (2017)
  • Reading: 22 (2018) up from 21.7 (2017)
  • English: 21.1 (2018) up from 20.9 (2017)
  • Science: 21.4 (2018) up from 21.2 (2017)

The state has a goal that the average score be 21 on the ACT test. Knox County has already achieved that. The superintendent says the district plans to build on that success.