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Effects of Paddling on ACT Scores

Figures show that students in states that allow disciplinary paddling continue to be dramatically outperformed by their un-spanked peers on the ACT Test.

The 2010 report from act.org shows that 86 percent of U.S. States showed some improvement on their ACT scores between 1994 and 2010, but there were significant differences in student performance between school systems that paddle and those who didn’t.

Three-quarters of thirty non-paddling states posted 2010 scores above the national average, and nearly two-thirds of these states had above average rates of improvement over the prior eighteen years.

By contrast, 75 percent of spanking states scored below average on the ACT composite, and half had improvement rates that fell short of the national trend. As a group, students in the 10 states that paddled the most had the worst test results and showed the least improvement in their scores over the previous eighteen years. 90 percent of heavy-paddling states had below average ACT scores, and seven of the ten worst scores were from the heaviest paddling school systems in the country.

Among paddling states, those that paddled less generally fared better. This group includes three states that reported no paddling incidents at all, even though spanking was allowed by law. Rates of improvement in the infrequent paddling states were four times higher than those of states that paddled more often, and four of the five paddling states posting above average composite ACT scores were from the states that used paddling least. Among these was North Carolina—the only paddling state in America to score among the top ten in improvement. Still, most of the infrequent paddling states posted below average composite test scores. Overall, 15 of the 20 paddling states scored below average, and nine of the ten lowest scores were from paddling states.

State 2010 Composite ACT Score 2008 Composite ACT Score Percentage Change
2008-2010
New Jersey 23.2 22.7 +2.2%
Massachusetts 24 23.6 +1.68%
Hawaii 21.6 21.6 +0%
Maine 23.2 22.7 +2.2%
Rhode Island 22.8 21.9 +4.11%
New Hampshire 23.7 23.1 +2.6%
New York 23.3 23.1 +.87%
Vermont 23.2 22.7 +2.2%
California 22.2 22.2 0%
Wisconsin 22.1 22.3 -.9%
Nebraska 22.1 22.1 0%
Alaska 21.1 21.2 -.47%
Connecticut 23.7 23.3 +1.72%
Iowa 22.2 22.4 -.89%
Michigan 19.7 19.6 +.5%
Minnesota 22.9 22.6 +1.33%
North Dakota 21.5 21.6 -.46%
Oregon 21.5 21.2 +1.42%
Virginia 22.3 21.8 +2.29%
South Dakota 21.8 22.0 -.91%
Montana 22.0 22.0 0%
Utah 21.8 21.8 0%
Illinois 20.7 20.7 0%
Maryland 22.3 22.0 +1.36%
Nevada 21.5 21.3 +.94%
Washington 23 23.1 -.43%
West Virginia 20.7 20.7 0%
Delaware 23 22.6 +1.77%
Pennsylvania 21.9 22.1 -.9%
Ohio 21.8 21.7 +.46%

ACT Composite Scores for States Allowing Corporal Punishment
Highlighted States Also Have Immunity

State 2010 Composite ACT Score 2008 Composite ACT Score Percentage Change
2008-2010
Mississippi 18.8 18.9 -.5%
Arkansas 20.3 20.6 -1.46%
Alabama 20.3 20.4 -.5%
Oklahoma 20.7 20.7 0%
Louisiana 20.1 20.3 -.1%
Tennessee 19.6 20.7 -5.31%
Texas 20.8 20.7 +.5%
Georgia 20.7 20.6 +.5%
Missouri 21.6 21.6 0%
Florida 19.5 19.8 -1.52%
Kentucky 19.4 20.9 -7.18%
North Carolina 21.9 21.3 +2.82%
New Mexico 20.1 20.3 -1%
South Carolina 20 19.9 -+.5%
Indiana 22.3 22.0 +1.36%
Idaho 21.8 21.5 +1.4%
Kansas 22 22 -0%
Arizona 20 21.9 -8.68%
Colorado 20.6 20.5 +.5%
Wyoming 20.0 22.1 -9.5%
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