ACT: 24% test as ready for college

Twenty-four percent of 2010 high school graduates who took the ACT are ready for college work, according to the ACT College and Career Readiness report. That’s up from 23 percent last year and 21 percent in 2006.

While 66 percent tested as college ready in English composition and 52 percent in reading, only 43 percent were ready for math and 29 percent for science, ACT reported.  Thirty-nine percent hit three or four benchmarks. Twenty-eight percent didn’t meet any; another 15 percent met only one.

After analyzing college grades in English composition, introductory social sciences, college algebra and biology, ACT defines the minimum score needed to give a student a 50 percent chance of earning a grade of B or higher or a 75 percent chance of earning a C or higher.

The average composite score was 21.0, down slightly from 21.1 in three of the past five years.

More students are taking the ACT and more are black or Hispanic. The number of Hispanic graduates tested is up by 84 percent since 2006.

In the past five years, participation in the ACT in Michigan, Kentucky, Wyoming and Tennessee has risen to include virtually all graduates, rather than only college-bound students. These states joined Colorado and Illinois in offering the ACT to all public school 11th graders as part of statewide assessment programs. North Dakota began the same practice this past spring, and three other states—Arkansas, Texas and Utah—have been or will soon begin offering the ACT to all school districts at state expense.

Not surprisingly, students who take college-prep courses are more likely to meet college readiness benchmarks. Fifty-five percent of students who took more than three years of math in high school met the match benchmark compared to 13 percent of those who took just three years of math.

This fall, ACT will issue a report linking college and career readiness to the Common Core State Standards adopted by a majority of states.

Update: Black and Hispanic students are way behind, reports Ed Week.

Only 11 percent of Hispanic students and 4 percent of black students met the ACT’s benchmarks for college readiness in all four subject areas tested, compared with 30 percent of white students and 39 percent of Asian students.

. . .  In math, for instance, 13 percent of black students and 27 percent of Hispanic students met the college-ready score of 22, compared with 52 percent of white students and 68 percent of Asian students.

Overall, seven percent of ACT takers aspire to an associate degree, 38 percent to a bachelor’s degree and 44 percent to a graduate or professional degree.

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