States, Districts Need Continued Efforts to Improve
The percentage of U.S. high school graduates meeting all four of ACTs College Readiness Benchmarks increased slightly in 2009, as the pool of students taking the ACT® test continued to expand. Nevertheless, findings suggest continued effort to improve college readiness is needed on the part of states and school districts.
The percentage of graduates ready to earn at least a C or higher in first-year college courses in all four subject areas tested on the ACTEnglish, math, reading, and scienceincreased from 22 percent in 2008 to 23 percent in 2009. This percentage meeting all four benchmarks remains higher than in 2005 and 2006 and is the same as in 2007, when the pool of test-takers was likely less diverse in terms of academic preparation.
A record nearly 1.5 million 2009 graduates took the ACT, up from 1.42 million in 2008. Based on the actual performance of successful students in college, the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks specify the minimum scores needed on each ACT subject area test to indicate a student is ready to succeed (50 percent chance of earning a B or higher or about a 75 percent chance of earning a C or higher) in a typical first-year, credit-bearing college course in that subject area. Years of empirical ACT data indicate that students who meet or surpass the College Readiness Benchmarks are more likely than those who dont to go to college, stay in school, and graduate with a college degree.
While the slight increase in students meeting all four benchmarks is encouraging, the findings make clear there is still substantial room for improvement in college readiness. The large majority of U.S. high school graduates continue to lack at least some of the academic skills they will need to earn at least a C or higher in first-year, for-credit college coursework. These findings underscore the need for school districts and states to focus their attention on the essential knowledge and skills needed for college and career readiness by all students.
From a single assessment that helps students get into college to a broad array of programs and services that prepare people worldwide for success in education and careers, ACT has come into its own over five decades.
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