Only 25 percent—an increase of 1 percentage point—of high school graduates from the Class of 2011 were considered “ready” for college courses in English, reading, mathematics, and science, according to results on their ACT exams released last month.
“American students are making incremental progress toward being ready to complete college-level work, but there’s still significant work to be done,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “In today’s knowledge-based economy, American children are competing with the rest of the world for jobs, and our country’s long-term economic security is directly tied to the quality of its public education. These ACT results are another sign that states need to raise their academic standards and commit to education reforms that accelerate student achievement.”
Nearly two-thirds of high school graduates met ACT’s benchmark for college readiness in English, but students fared much worse on the other three subjects. In reading, 52 percent of students were considered college ready by ACT, compared to only 45 percent in math and 30 percent in science. Nearly 30 percent of graduates failed to meet any of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks.1
As shown in the graph to the right, the percentages of students considered college ready in math and science increased slightly, while percentages remained the same in English and reading.
“It’s encouraging to see the positive trend continuing, with more high school graduates showing they are ready to succeed academically at the next level,” said Jon Erickson, interim president of ACT’s education division. “Although growth has been slow, it has been consistent. Things appear to be moving in the right direction.”
Contained in The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2011, the findings reveal improvements among Asian and white high school graduates since 2007, but no change in the average scores of Hispanic and African American students. The average scores of American Indian students declined during the same time period.
Although improvements have only been incremental, the number of students taking the ACT continues to grow. In 2011, more than 1.6 million high school graduates—49 percent of the entire U.S. graduating class—took the ACT, an all-time record number for the seventh year in a row. The proportion of African American and Hispanic test takers has grown from 19 percent in 2007 to a high of 26 percent in 2011.
The complete results are available at http://bit.ly/o9IDwy.
1 ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks are the minimum scores needed on the ACT subject-area tests to indicate a 50 percent change of obtaining a “B” or higher or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a “C” or higher in corresponding first-year credit-bearing college courses.