(The Hill) — Students are the least prepared for college than they’ve been in three decades, according to the nonprofit organization that administers the ACT.

The organization found more than 4 in 10 high school seniors hit none of the college readiness benchmarks, saying this is “historic highs in 2023.”

The decline marks a 32-year low for high school seniors’ scores on the test, with results like this last seen in 1991.

“This is the sixth consecutive year of declines in average scores, with average scores declining in every academic subject,” ACT CEO Janet Godwin said. “We are also continuing to see a rise in the number of seniors leaving high school without meeting any of the college readiness benchmarks, even as student GPAs continue to rise and students report that they feel prepared to be successful in college.

The ACT college readiness benchmark is the minimum score a student can get that will show they could perform well in first-year college classes. 

The average composite score on the test declined in 2023 to 19.5, from 19.8 a year earlier, according to the ACT.

The organization noted this group of students taking the ACT was hit by COVID-19 in their first year of high school, meaning their time in school was plagued by school closures, online learning and mask mandates.

The percentage of students meeting all four benchmarks in the ACT dropped 1.3 percentage points from 22.1 percent in 2022 to 20.8 percent in 2023.

“The hard truth is that we are not doing enough to ensure that graduates are truly ready for postsecondary success in college and career. These systemic problems require sustained action and support at the policy level. This is not up to teachers and principals alone – it is a shared national priority and imperative,” said Godwin.