Wisconsin ACT scores plummet
State drops from 2nd best to 9th worst in the nation

MADISON – Newly released ACT scores show a steep decline in student test results. The drop in average test score from 22.2 to 20.0 coincides with an increase in the number of Wisconsin students taking the exam and comes after several years of Republican budget cuts that have impacted public education in the state. These scores dropped Wisconsin from 2nd best to 9th worst in the nation (tied with Kentucky) among states where more than half the students took the exam.  

“Local school districts have really taken it on the chin these past several years and I think these test scores are a reflection of that fact,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). “Teachers in Wisconsin are working harder than ever, but Republican budget cuts, special interest giveaways and a misguided focus on Gov. Walker’s presidential campaign have taken a toll on our schools. This drop in ACT scores is particularly concerning given Wisconsin’s ongoing economic challenges, workforce shortages and shrinking middle class.”

In his recent presidential campaign, Gov. Walker frequently used the state’s ACT scores as a metric for his education policies. While Wisconsin has traditionally ranked above average in terms of ACT scores, these latest numbers place Wisconsin dead last in the Midwest and among the bottom ten states nationally. 

“Families across Wisconsin are concerned about the direction of our state,” added Shilling. “Parents have noticed the overcrowding in classrooms, teacher shortages and increased referendums. Families I’ve heard from are concerned that Republican legislators sold out our schools to support the special interest groups behind Gov. Walker’s presidential campaign. Hopefully these ACT scores are a wake-up call to legislative leaders. As troubling as these latest numbers are, I know that we can turn things around in Wisconsin if we recommit to putting our schools and students ahead of special interests.”

Nationally, Wisconsin saw the fourth largest cut to K-12 general school aid funding in 2015-16 according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research and policy institute. Wisconsin was one of only 12 states to cut general funding per student when adjusted for inflation.