ACT exam results show gradual improvement in college and career readiness

ACT results show improvements in college readiness

According to a recent ACT, Inc. survey entitled "The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2011," U.S. high school graduates who take the ACT exam continue to show increasing readiness both for college and for a career. Twenty-five percent of the 1.62 million graduates of the class of 2011 who took the ACT met or exceeded all four of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, up from 24 percent last year.

The ACT College Readiness Benchmarks specify the minimum scores in each ACT subject-area test (English, math, reading and science) to show that a student has a 50 percent chance of earning a grade of B or higher or about a 75 percent chance of earning a C or higher in a typical credit-bearing first-year college course in that subject area.

"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," Jon Erickson, interim president of ACT's Education Division, said in a statement. "Although growth has been slow, it has been consistent. Things appear to be moving in the right direction."

Breaking down the benchmarks

Specifically, 45 percent of test takers (compared to 43 percent last year) met or surpassed the ACT College Readiness Benchmark in math, while 30 percent (compared to 29 percent last year) met or exceeded the benchmark in science. Sixty-six percent and 52 percent met or surpassed the benchmarks in English and reading, respectively, both unchanged from last year.

Still, 28 percent of test takers in the 2011 graduate class failed to meet any of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, unchanged from last year.

"Too many students are still falling through the cracks," Erickson said. "It's important that we work hard to ensure that all young people graduate from high school with the skills they need to succeed in college and career."

ACT, Inc. also reports that more than 200,000 Hispanic graduates (12 percent of all ACT test takers) took the ACT exam in 2011, a 27 percent increase from 2010 and more than twice the number who took the exam in 2007. Among Hispanic graduates in the class of 2011 who took the ACT exam, 11 percent met or surpassed all four of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, and 45 percent failed to meet any of the four benchmarks.

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