What About ACT Scores?
by Silence Dogood

While many people will argue that the RATE MY PROFESSORS website has some shortcomings, one will have a little more difficulty arguing with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.

If you go to the link

https://www.ohe.state.mn.us/dPg.cfm?pageID=792

you will find the MN Office of Higher Education’s information about ACT scores.

One of the first figures that caught my eye was a plot of the composite ACT scores for Minnesota compared with the rest of the nation.

The scoring advantage Minnesota had in the past dropped to only a difference of 0.2 in 2016 and the difference increased slightly to 0.5 in 2017. Based on these results, Minnesota might have some difficulty continuing to sell itself as the “brainpower state” and contrary to Garrison Keillor’s assertion—everybody isn’t above average!

A second figure that stands out is the ACT scores of First-time Degree-seeking Students Admitted to Minnesota 4-Year Colleges, 2016-2017.

Looking at the data, students self-select the schools that they wish to send their ACT scores. This can be interpreted as a measure of the academic reputation of a school.

The first column indicates the Number of students submitting ACT scores to a particular public 4-year institution. From this data, it is clear to see that the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities is the big winner with more than twice the number of students submitting their scores than any other public university. From there, Minnesota State University—Mankato is second with 2,274, University of Minnesota—Duluth is third with 2,110, followed by Saint Cloud State University in fourth with 1,587. From the data, 687 more students in Minnesota chose to send their ACT scores to Minnesota State University—Mankato than Saint Cloud State University! In fact, Saint Cloud State University only had 32 students report their ACT scores than Winona State University.

The second column of data in the table indicates the Percent of students submitting ACT scores to a particular public 4-year institution. To make it easier to understand the data, I have created a table listing the percent by rank order rather than alphabetically with ties broken by the university with the larger number of students.

In the table, the universities in the Minnesota State system are in bold because the comparison within the Minnesota State system is important to those universities. Clearly, Southwest Minnesota State University brings up the rear at 82%. However, Saint Cloud State University, coming in second from the bottom, at 88% should be a shocker! Winona State University and Bemidji State University lead the Minnesota State system universities with 98% and 97%, respectively. Minnesota State University—Mankato, which has been Saint Cloud State’s traditional rival, comes in at 93% which is 5% higher. Even Minnesota State University—Moorhead beats Saint Cloud State University 91% to 88%! At some point, when there has been so much ‘smoke’ at Saint Cloud State University, it is hard to believe that the Fire Department has not been called!

Considering that Saint Cloud State University ‘invested’ nearly half a million dollars back in 2011 in rebranding: “Think, Do, Make a Difference”, the results show that Saint Cloud State University did not get its money’s worth!

The last data to consider is the third column in the table showing the 25th Percentile score of the ACT composite. Essentially, this indicates that 25% of all applicants have ACT composite scores lower than this score. Again, to make it easier to understand the data, I have created a table listing the percent by rank order rather than alphabetically with ties broken by the university with the larger number of students.

Again, the Universities within the Minnesota State System are shown in bold. Clearly, the universities within the University of Minnesota System attract higher quality students than the Minnesota State System. However, within the Minnesota State System, Saint Cloud State attracts the least qualified students (in a tie with the smallest university within the Minnesota State System).

In the past, numerous arguments have been given for Saint Cloud State University’s decline from being the ‘flagship’ school within the system to second or third place [It is interesting to note that Winona State University had more new entering freshmen last fall than Saint Cloud State University]. Demographics, the recession, the improving economy, “right sizing”, the list goes on. The only thing that has not happened is that no one has been held accountable for the 30% decline in enrollment, multimillion dollar deficits year after year and morale, which can only be described as being in the toilet (indicated in the Great Place to Work survey in 2013).

With ongoing searches for a new President and Chief Financial Officer, it is a wonder if qualified candidates will apply (or stay) if they know of Saint Cloud State University’s downward trajectory. More importantly, one wonders if anyone will ever be held accountable at SCSU.

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