Tennessee public high school graduates improved their performance on the ACT test in 2012, earning an average score of 19.2 out of 36, up from 19.0 the year before, according to state-by-state results released by ACT this week. Tennessee is one of only nine states to mandate that all high school students take the ACT test, so statewide scores help the Tennessee Department of Education measure the state’s progress towards its goal of greater college and career readiness for all students. The percentage test-takers meeting all of the ACT’s college readiness benchmarks rose from 13 percent to 14 percent in Tennessee as scores increased in 2012. “It’s going to take year after year of these incremental gains to see Tennessee students exhibiting the high levels of achievement we know they can reach,” said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “Far too many students in our state graduate without the knowledge they need for college or the job market. We are implementing education reforms designed to address these deficiencies and drive continuous improvement.” In Tennessee, 56 percent of graduates met ACT benchmarks in English, 26 percent in math, 39 percent in reading and 18 percent in science. This year’s scores highlight the necessity for Tennessee to increase college readiness among certain racial minorities. Only 3 percent of black students and 9 percent of Hispanic students met college benchmarks in all four core subjects, compared to 18 percent of white students and 31 percent of Asian students. Under the leadership of Gov. Bill Haslam, Tennessee has prioritized establishing pathways to post-secondary education and careers. With the education department’s No Child Left Behind waiver, the state now measures schools’ overall achievement as well as their progress closing gaps between groups of students. Through curricula targeted at developing the skills needed for college and the workplace, the department strives to better prepare students and continue to improve Tennessee’s ACT results.