The Hamilton County Department of Education is seen in this file photo.

Hamilton County average ACT score by school

Brainerd High School: 15.6, up from 14.0

Central High School: 18.9, up from 18.2

Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy: 17.7, up from 16.8

Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts: 24.4, up from 23.4

Chattanooga School for Arts and Sciences: 22.9, up from 22.1

East Hamilton Middle-High School: 22.3, up from 20.9

East Ridge High School: 17.8, up from 16.7

Hamilton County Collegiate High: 26.5, up from 26.0

Hamilton County High School: 16.4, up from 15.8

Hixson High School: 19.3, up from 18.1

Ivy Academy: 17.4, down from 18.0

Lookout Valley Middle-High School: 21.2, up from 18.8

Ooltewah High School: 20, down from 20.6

Red Bank High School: 19.1, up from 18.1

Sale Creek Middle-High School: 21.7, up from 19.8

Sequoyah High School: 16.7, up from 15.8

Signal Mountain Middle-High School: 24.1, up from 24

Soddy-Daisy High School: 20.8, up from 20.3

STEM School Chattanooga: 23.3, up from 20.2

The Howard School: 15.5, up from 14.8

Tyner Academy: 17, up from 15.6

All scores out of 36 possible.

Source: ACT reports and Tennessee Department of Education

Hamilton County's public high school students posted slight gains in average ACT scores this year and are nipping at the heels of the state's average, according to data released by the Tennessee Department of Education.

Students received a 19.9 average composite ACT score this year, up from 19.1 last year and only two-tenths of a point below the state average of 20.1. Last year's statewide average was 19.9. Nationally, the average score for this year was 21, up from 20.8 last year. The highest score possible is 32.

"We were encouraged to see ACT scores improved to 19.9," Amy Katcher, communication coordinator for Hamilton County Department of Education, said in an email. "Positive strides like this are very encouraging as we strive to become the fastest improving school district in the state of Tennessee."

Katcher said schools that improved their scores this year will receive banners from the district to showcase their achievement.

Average ACT scores

Hamilton County
English: 19.2

Reading: 20.4

Math: 19.4

Science: 20.2


English: 19.6

Reading: 20.5

Math: 19.4

Science: 20.3

All scores out of 36 possible.

Source: Tennessee Department of Education

Average public high school ACT scores

2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017

Hamilton County: 18.7 / 19.0 / 18.9 / 19.1 / 19.9

State: 19.1 / 19.3 / 19.4 / 19.4 / 20.1

All scores out of 36 possible.

Source: Tennessee Department of Education

Though Hamilton County students' average scores have increased this year, only about 41.5 percent are scoring 21 or higher on their ACTs, and many are still not meeting college readiness benchmarks in most subjects.

To be considered college ready, students must meet a specific benchmark score in each of the four tested subjects. On the English portion, students must earn an 18 to be considered college ready, which indicates they are likely able to make a "C" or better on a college composition course. For reading, the benchmark for college readiness is set at 22, and suggests readiness for a college-level social sciences course.

In math, students must also score a 22 to meet the benchmark, which predicts they can pass a college algebra course. For science, a 23-point score is needed to be deemed college ready, indicating a student will likely succeed in an entry-level biology course.

English was the only subject in which students exceeded college readiness with a 19.2. Reading, math and science were below benchmark scores by an average of 2.3 points.

At Brainerd High, one of the system's iZone schools, also known as priority schools, students' average composite scores were 15.6, with 7.2 percent scoring 21 or higher.

In August, school system Superintendent Bryan Johnson announced his plan to launch an Opportunity Zone to support 12 of the district's struggling schools, serving the Brainerd High and the Howard School feeder patterns. The leadership team for those schools was announced late last month.

"This team will support school communities and ensure there is a focus on all students graduating post-secondary ready," Johnson said in a statement last month.

The Opportunity Zone is part of Johnson's goal for Hamilton County to become the "fastest-improving district in the state."

Education Department Commissioner Candice McQueen announced Tuesday that more than 3,500 additional students across the state took the exam this year. The results also show that about 1,800 more Tennessee public school graduates became eligible for the HOPE scholarship by earning composite scores of 21 or higher.

Average first-year freshman ACT score

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga: 24

University of Tennessee at Knoxville: 27

Chattanooga State: 18

Covenant College: 27

All scores out of 36 possible.



"These results are incredibly encouraging," McQueen said in a statement. "... Tennessee is one of 18 states that require all students to take the ACT or SAT — so today's results demonstrate what is possible for all students. We want every student to be able to take their diploma and seamlessly move into their next step."

Tennessee's class of 2017 was the first one to have access to a free opportunity to retake the ACT, which the department expanded this year to ensure more students can retake the exam. Nearly 26,000 students in the class of 2017 participated in the department's first ACT Senior Retake Day last fall. Of those, nearly 40 percent increased their overall score. Tennessee is the first and only state to offer this opportunity on a statewide scale.

ACT results serve as a nationally normed measure to indicate college and career readiness. Under a new accountability measure, called the Ready Graduate, earning a 21 on the ACT is one of the four ways students can indicate they are prepared for life after high school and able to seamlessly enroll in post- secondary education and enter the workplace or the military.

In Hamilton County, eight of the 21 high schools had an average score of 21 or higher.

Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.