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THE CONDITION OF COLLEGE & CAREER READINESS: Only 5 Percent of African American High School Graduates “College Ready” in All Four of ACT’s College-Readiness Benchmarks

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Only 34 percent of African American graduates reached ACT’s college-readiness benchmark in English, compared to 64 percent for all ACT-tested graduates.

Only 5 percent of African American high school students from the Class of 2013 met all four of ACT’s college-readiness benchmarks in English, reading, mathematics, and science, compared to 26 percent of the class as a whole, according to The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2013: African American Students, released by ACT on March 27.

“ACT’s report unequivocally documents the failure of our schools to prepare all African American students for college and career,” said Michael Lomax, president and chief executive officer of the United Negro College Fund. “This report should serve to focus our collective attention on the work we must do as a nation to ensure that all Americans are prepared to meet the basic requirements for postsecondary education; it’s a call to action we dare not ignore.”

As shown in the graph below, only 34 percent of African American graduates reached ACT’s college-readiness benchmark in English, compared to 64 percent for all ACT-tested graduates. Similar achievement gaps are present in reading, mathematics, and science.

ACTGraphMar2014

Only 10 percent of African American graduates met at least three of four benchmarks—compared to 39 percent for all ACT-tested graduates; 62 percent of African American graduates met none of the benchmarks, compared to 31 percent for all test takers

Compared to 2012, the percentage of 2013 African American graduates meeting the benchmark dropped from 36 percent to 34 percent in English, 22 percent to 16 percent in reading, and 15 percent to 14 percent in mathematics; in science, the percentage meeting the benchmark increased from 7 percent in 2012 to 10 percent in 2013

The decrease in the percentages of students reaching the subject-area benchmarks could be attributed to the increase in test takers. In 2013, 222,000 African American graduates took the ACT, an increase of 8.1 percent compared to 2012 and an increase of 22.5 percent since 2009.

The report is available at http://www.act.org/newsroom/data/2013/states/africanamerican.html.

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