Using Dual Enrollment to Improve the Educational Outcomes of High School Students
This report describes ACT's multiyear commitment to increasing the number of eligible high school students enrolled in dual enrollment programs across the nation. The report also offers four policy recommendations to expand dual enrollment programs, as well as examples of each from selected states.
Career Readiness in the United States 2015
This report highlights the levels of career readiness for various subgroups of ACT WorkKeys® examinees in the United States and provides career readiness benchmarks for selected ACT WorkKeys cognitive skills by career cluster.
The Condition of STEM 2015
The Condition of STEM 2015 reviews the ACT-tested 2015 graduating class in the context of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)-related fields. It also highlights four ACT-defined STEM categories related to highly skilled STEM careers and majors as well as areas where a two-year degree and/or certification are needed. The report provides data on the measured and expressed interest levels of students in STEM majors and occupations while aligning the data with student aptitudes in math and science. ACT uses the data to project actual student counts for each of the designated areas within each state and across the nation. Trend data and N counts for subgroups have been added in 2015 to allow for more effective review and utilization of the report.
Core Research Program: Results from the First Wave of the Base Year Data Collection
Core Research Program: Results from the First Wave of the Base Year Data Collection provides an overview of the core research program of the College and Career Readiness Evaluation Consortium (CCREC). The report includes data on student background characteristics, baseline academic achievement, educational plans, and self-reported needs of students in the 7-year longitudinal study. It establishes a baseline for estimating the effect of GEAR UP and informs the selection of a matched comparison group—non-GEAR UP lower-income students.
Answers to Administrators' Questions about Student Growth
This report describes how student growth is reported on ACT Aspire and then answers several common questions administrators may have about how to use the growth information.
Answers to Teachers' Questions about Student Growth
This report describes how student growth is reported on ACT Aspire and then answers several common questions teachers may have about how to use the growth information.
Answers to Parents' Questions about Student Growth
This report describes how student growth is reported on ACT Aspire and then answers several common questions parents may have about how to use the growth information.
ACT Work Ready Communities: A Summary of the 2014 Survey Results
This report summarizes key findings from the 2014 ACT Work Ready Communities (WRC) Survey, to which participants in state-led or county-led ACT WRC initiatives responded. The survey results identify areas of strength and potential areas of improvement regarding the overall ACT WRC initiative and some of its specific components.
The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2015
Using ACT® college readiness assessment scores and the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, the Condition of College & Career Readiness reports provide national and state snapshots of the college and career readiness of the graduating seniors of the class of 2015 who took the ACT in high school.
Informing Educational Planning and Advising for Students from At-Risk Demographic Groups
This report describes the precollege academic preparation, achievement, behaviors, and other noncognitive characteristics of recent high school seniors in the midst of the college planning and application process. Differences in these characteristics among student demographic groups are examined.
Building Momentum: The Condition of Progress Toward College Readiness
This report provides a look at the progress toward college readiness made by middle school students and students at the midpoint of high school who took ACT Explore® and ACT Plan® during the 2012–13 school year.
The Condition of STEM 2014
The Condition of STEM 2014 reviews the ACT-tested 2014 graduating class in the context of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)-related fields. It also highlights four ACT-defined STEM categories related to highly skilled STEM careers and majors as well as areas where a two-year degree and/or certification are needed. The report provides data on the measured and expressed interest levels of students in STEM majors and occupations while aligning the data with student aptitudes in math and science. ACT uses the data to project actual student counts for each of the designated areas within each state and across the nation. Trend data and N counts for subgroups have been added in 2014 to allow for more effective review and utilization of the report.
College Choice Report: High School Class 2014 – Expanding Opportunities
The College Choice Report is an annual report series that follows an ACT-tested high school graduating class from high school through their second year of college. The report for the graduating class of 2014 focuses on testing behaviors that may expand college opportunities available to students, covering such topics as the grade level in which students test, the timing and number of score reports students send to colleges, and their participation in the ACT Educational Opportunity Service, and the relative influence of these behaviors on enrollment, persistence, and transfer.
The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2014
Using ACT® college readiness assessment scores and the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, the Condition of College & Career Readiness reports provide national and state snapshots of the college and career readiness of the graduating seniors of the class of 2014 who took the ACT in high school.
Catching Up to College and Career Readiness: The Challenge is Greater for At-Risk Students
How many “far off track” eighth graders from disadvantaged student demographic groups catch up to college and career readiness before they graduate? How many “far off track” disadvantaged fourth graders catch up by eighth grade?
Building Momentum: The Condition of Progress Toward College Readiness
This report provides a look at the progress toward college readiness made by middle school students and students at the midpoint of high school who took ACT Explore and ACT Plan during the 2011–12 school year.
The Condition of STEM 2013
The Condition of STEM 2013 reviews the ACT-tested 2013 graduating class in the context of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)-related fields. It also highlights four ACT-defined STEM categories related to highly skilled STEM careers and majors as well as areas where a two-year degree and/or certification are needed. The report provides data on the measured and expressed interest levels of students in STEM majors and occupations while aligning the data with student aptitudes in math and science. ACT uses the data to project actual student counts for each of the designated areas within each state and across the nation.
College Choice Report: High School Class 2013 – Choice of College Majors
The College Choice Report is an annual report series that follows an ACT-tested high school graduating class from high school through their second year of college. The report for the graduating class of 2013 focuses on the students’ selection of a college major or program of study, covering such topics as the certainty of students’ planned major choice, the fit between their choice of major and their measured interests, the consistency of their planned and declared major, and their persistence within their declared major.
The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2013
Using ACT® test scores and the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, the Condition of College & Career Readiness reports provide national and state snapshots of the college and career readiness of the graduating seniors of the class of 2013 who took the ACT in high school.
The Condition of Work Readiness in the United States (PDF; 33 pages)
In this report and its Executive Summary (PDF; 4 pages), ACT highlights the levels of work readiness for various subgroups of ACT WorkKeys examinees in the United States and provides work readiness standards and benchmarks for selected groups of targeted high-demand and high-wage occupations.
Work Readiness Standards and Benchmarks (PDF; 20 pages)
ACT defines “work readiness,” presents a framework for aligning education and training to current job skill requirements, and describes what individuals must achieve to secure in-demand jobs and to transition throughout their careers.
2013 Reality of College Readiness Report
This national report and the series of state reports trace the enrollment, retention, and transfer patterns of 2011 ACT-tested high school graduates.
College Choice Report: High School Class 2012 – Self-reported Preferences
The College Choice Report is an annual report series that follows an ACT-tested high school graduating class from high school through their second year of college. The report for the graduating class of 2012 focuses on the students’ stated preferences for the type and location of colleges that they are considering, specifically covering the relationships between these attribute preferences and students’ eventual enrollment, persistence, and transfer at colleges that match these attribute preferences.
College and Career Readiness: The Importance of Early Learning
The report reaffirms the importance of early learning and addresses the growing need of a system to support early learning in schools, as well as the obligation of educators and policymakers to promote public awareness of the advantages of early learning.
Readiness Matters: The Impact of College Readiness on College Persistence and Degree Completion
What is the importance of college readiness for persisting in college to timely degree completion?
Catching Up To College and Career Readiness
How many "far off track" fourth and eighth graders catch up to college and career readiness before they graduate?
2012 Reality of College Readiness Report
This national report and the series of state reports trace the enrollment, retention, and transfer patterns of 2010 ACT-tested high school graduates.
Changing Lives, Building a Workforce (PDF, 16 pages)
This report uses ACT's accumulated education and workforce data sets to examine workforce pipeline gaps that community colleges will need to address to (1) meet workforce development demands and (2) reach their full potential in preparing community college students for jobs and careers.
The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2012
Using ACT test scores and the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, the Condition of College & Career Readiness reports provide national and state snapshots of the college and career readiness of the graduating seniors of the class of 2012 who took the ACT in high school.
Raising the Bar: A Baseline for College and Career Readiness in Our Nation's High School Core Courses
This study examines the effectiveness of high school English, math, and science courses in preparing students for college and career.
Enrollment Management Trends Report 2012
A snapshot of the 2011 ACT-tested high school graduates
A First Look at Higher Performing High Schools
This report provides the results of a survey of educators at high schools across the country that have demonstrated strong progress towards college and career readiness.
The Core Practice Framework: A Guide to Sustained School Improvement
This report provides an overview of the Core Practice™ Framework, an evidence-based approach schools or districts can use to develop a long-term and systemic strategy for improving student performance.
A Better Measure of Skills Gaps
This report proposes a simple definition to describe the increasing mismatch between labor market supply and demand in America and sets forth detailed and specific measures to analyze skills gaps in four major industry sectors.
The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2011
Using ACT® test scores and the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, the Condition of College & Career Readiness reports provide national and state snapshots of the college and career readiness of the graduating seniors of the class of 2011 who took the ACT in high school.
Affirming the Goal: Is College and Career Readiness an Internationally Competitive Standard?
This report examines how performance standards in reading and math on PLAN® compare to performance on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a worldwide assessment of 15-year-old students' academic achievement.
Breaking New Ground: Building a National Workforce Skills Credentialing System
This report introduces the need and associated benefits for establishing a national workforce credentialing system, as we know of no other set of activities more important than getting a critical mass of state, national, and public and private workforce leaders to co-construct this foundational framework to address our national workforce challenges.
The 20 Non-Negotiable Characteristics of Higher Performing School Systems
Discover the 20 hard-hitting characteristics that make school systems successful at preparing students for college and careers.
Relating the ACT Indicator Understanding Complex Texts to College Course Grades (PDF, 10 pages)
This study presents validity evidence and the development of cut scores for ACT's Understanding Complex Texts indicators.
Multiple Testers: What Do We Know About Them? (PDF, 2 pages)
With the increase in number and percentage of students taking the ACT more than once, EWRS has been tasked with answering a variety of questions regarding how to characterize multiple-testing students. This report is intended to highlight some characteristics of this population revealed through recent research requests. Along with the highlights, the report provides recommended directions for further in-depth study intended to broaden our understanding and improve our ability to serve these students.
Updating ACT Aspire® STEM Readiness Benchmarks (PDF, 2 pages)
This brief discusses the process of updating the ACT Readiness Benchmarks for the ACT Aspire STEM scores based on the ACT College Readiness Benchmark of the STEM score. The new and original ACT Aspire STEM benchmarks were applied to the spring 2015 operational data to show the meeting benchmark rates, and a longitudinal dataset was used to obtain the classification consistency rates between spring 2014 and spring 2015.
Philippines ACT KeyTrain® Effectiveness Study (PDF, 3 pages)
This technical brief describes an analysis of high school student participation in the ACT KeyTrain curriculum and its impact on improving ACT WorkKeys assessment scores. The results of the analysis showed significant gains in the posttest mean scale scores for the students who took the ACT KeyTrain curriculum for Applied Mathematics, Locating Information, and Reading for Information compared to students who were given other non-ACT WorkKeys skill related instruction.
Influence of Achievement in Core High School Courses on ACT® Scores (PDF, 4 pages)
How much does mastery of core high school courses influence performance on the ACT? This study examines how much achievement in core high school courses, as measured by performance on ACT QualityCore end-of-course assessments, contributes to performance on the ACT.
Providing Context for College Readiness Measures: College Enrollment and Graduation Projections for the 2015 ACT-Tested High School Graduating Class (PDF, 4 pages)
To highlight the importance of graduating from high school college-ready, the report provides projected enrollment and degree completion counts and rates by the number of ACT College Readiness Benchmarks met for the 2015 ACT-tested high school graduating class. The data used, the assumptions made, and the limitations of the estimates are discussed.
Development and Validation of a STEM Benchmark Based on the ACT STEM Score (PDF, 7 pages)
The report discusses the development and validation of a Benchmark that is based on the ACT STEM score and associated with a reasonable chance of success in typical first-year mathematics and science courses taken by STEM majors. The report also provides validity evidence for using the ACT STEM score to help identify students who are likely to persist and ultimately complete a degree in STEM disciplines.
More Promising Results: Evaluating the Effectivenss of Career & College Clubs Participation on College Enrollment (PDF, 4 pages)
In this study we examined the college going rates for students who were mentors in the Career & College Clubs (CCC) program compared to similar students attending schools that did not participate in the CCC program. We found a strong association between participating in the CCC program as a mentor and subsequent college enrollment.
ACT Aspire® Scores Associated with PISA Scores: A Preliminary Analysis (PDF, 5 pages)
This report updates the linkage between the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks and PISA scales using the updated ACT Plan Benchmarks and presents the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks on the ACT Aspire scale. This preliminary analysis provides a reevaluation of the ACT standards of college readiness to the performance of participating countries/economies from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on the most recent cycle of PISA results.
ACT Aspire® Scores Associated with AP Exam Success: A Preliminary Linkage (PDF, 3 pages)
This report provides ACT Aspire cut scores associated with likely success on select Advanced Placement (AP) exams. These cut scores were derived by connecting the ACT Aspire score scale to the ACT Plan cut scores from our earlier ACT Plan/AP exam linkages.
Job Qualifications of ACT NCRC® Recipients (PDF, 2 pages)
The ACT NCRC is a portable, evidence based credential that certifies foundational skills essential for workplace success. The question of which jobs an individual who has earned the ACT NCRC is qualified to perform is difficult to answer due to many variables. This paper provides a breakdown of jobs by certificate level in an attempt to answer such questions.
Why the ACT NCRC Is an Evidence-Based Credential (PDF, 1 page)
Assessments differ widely in terms of the validity evidence on which they are based. This brief describes the evidence established for ACT WorkKeys assessments and credentials. Professional standards for validity and reliability are also discussed.
Does Item Format Influence Survey Response? (PDF, 4 pages)
Two experimental studies were implemented to determine whether a modern or traditional item format had a differential impact on survey behavior outcomes. Whether survey respondents were given the traditional survey item format of radio buttons or a more modern feel where respondents click a row to make a selection, did not statistically influence four key response behaviors: response rates, completion rates, completion time and response patterns. However, it took less time for students to complete the survey when provided the modern item view. The opposite was true for adult survey takers.
Students’ Career Interests and Understanding about Occupations: A Study Using Whyville Players’ Behavioral Data
This Issue Brief summarizes data collected from the ACT Career Club in Whyville, a leading educational virtual world for children ages 8-15, with an emphasis on student behavior within the CareerQuest room. We try to use visitors' behavior to understand the development of adolescents' career interests and understanding about occupations.
Opt-Outs: What Is Lost When Students Do Not Test (PDF, 4 pages)
A report from ACT, Opt-Outs: What is Lost when Students Do Not Test, highlights the potential drawbacks of policies that would allow parents to opt their children out of required statewide tests.
The Legality of Using School-Wide Growth Measures in Teacher Evaluation Systems (PDF, 6 pages)
A report from ACT, The Legality of Using School-Wide Growth Measures in Teacher Evaluation Systems, highlights two recent legal challenges and provides recommendations on the appropriate use of school-wide growth measures as part of teacher evaluation systems.
Different Assessments, Different Results: A Cautionary Note When Interpreting State Test Results (PDF, 6 pages)
Various assessments have been developed to measure the educational achievement of students, including state tests, ACT, and NAEP. However, what does it mean when these different assessments lead to different conclusions? The report highlights the care that should be taken when interpreting states results across these various assessments as results are influenced by the cut scores used to identify proficiency as well as the group of students who take the assessment, which can vary across assessments and states.
Reviewing Your Options: The Case for Using Multiple-Choice Test Items (PDF, 6 pages)
The report highlights the benefits of including multiple-choice questions as part of an assessment system.
Occupational Gender Segregation and Psychological Differences (PDF, 2 pages)
Some occupations have more females than males, and some have more males than females. We explored whether this occupational gender segregation (OGS) can be accounted for by the psychological constructs of empathizing and systemizing. Only a small proportion of OGS was accounted for by these constructs.
How School District Leaders Can Support the Use of Data to Improve Teaching and Learning (PDF, 7 pages)
What can school district leaders do to support the use of data to guide improvement efforts at the district, school, and classroom levels? This report describes ten key steps that district leaders can take, and also discusses how state and local policymakers can support improvement in educators’ data use.
Anticipated Changes in ACT Scores and Participation Rates with ACT Statewide Adoption (PDF, 4 pages)
How much change in average ACT scores can states expect after adopting the ACT test for all eleventh graders? This ACT Issue Brief examines changes in state mean ACT scores and ACT participation rates resulting from statewide adoption of the ACT.
The Effects of Model Choice on Estimates of Teacher Effectiveness (PDF, 5 pages)
When using value-added models to estimate teacher effects, one of the key considerations is whether or not to include school effects into the model. This report examines the effects of both including and not including school level information in a hierarchical value-added model.
Unpacking “Career Readiness”
ACT has refined and deepened its groundbreaking research into the requirements for success in postsecondary education and the workplace, and this brief summarizes some of the main conclusions arising from this research. It also focuses attention toward a future direction for assessment that, in taking these new conclusions into account, clarifies and strengthens important concepts related to college readiness and workplace readiness.
SHRM/ACT Survey on Job Analysis (PDF, 37 pages)
ACT commissioned and collaborated with the Society for Human Resource Management on a survey about job analysis. Job analysis is the process of examining and analyzing the criteria needed to perform a job’s duties and tasks, which typically includes a candidate’s knowledge, skills, and abilities. This report provides information on what data Human Resources professionals collect when conducting job analyses and how they use that data.
Monitoring Implementation of the Read-Aloud Accommodation for English Language Arts Assessments (PDF, 7 pages)
A new report from ACT, Monitoring Implementation of the Read-Aloud Accommodation for English Language Arts Assessments, provides information about the read-aloud accommodation for ELA, possible methods for monitoring implementation of the accommodation, and recommendations for how practitioners can most effectively implement this accommodation.
Dual Credit/Dual Enrollment Coursework and Long-Term College Success in Texas (PDF, 7 pages)
The report describes the differences in early and long-term college success rates between incoming college students at four Texas four-year postsecondary institutions who had and had not taken dual credit/dual enrollment courses in high school.
The End of Erasures: Updating Test Security Laws and Policies for Computerized Testing
The report reviews test administration manuals in sixteen states, provides examples of good practice, and identifies areas where states could improve test security.
Recent Validity Evidence for Value-Added Measures of Teacher Performance
The report reviews four main criticisms regarding the validity of teacher evaluations based on student academic performance, and refutes those criticisms with evidence from recent research studies.
Research Study: The Forgotten Middle
The report indicates the crucial importance of pre–high school academic achievement level on students’ eventual level of college and career readiness.
Missing the Mark: Students Gain Little from Mandating Extra Math and Science Courses
The report suggests that changing high school graduation requirements alone may have little effect on college and career readiness for students.
Communicating College and Career Readiness through Proficiency Standards
The report describes how three states (Kentucky, New York, and Florida) and the District of Columbia have already transitioned their state assessments to reflect college and career readiness and how they have correspondingly determined performance and proficiency standards to match. Lessons learned from these examples may help other states currently negotiating their own transitions.
Chasing the College Dream in Hard Economic Times (PDF, 6 pages)
College degrees have considerable value for young adults, including access to better jobs, higher wages, and more stable employment. However, hard economic times strain the resources of students and their families to pay for a college degree. Hard economic times like the Great Recession highlight the challenges of paying for college when costs are rising and family financial resources are declining.
What Are the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks? (PDF, 3 pages)
The ACT College Readiness Benchmarks are the minimum ACT test scores required for students to have a high probability of success in credit-bearing college courses—English Composition, social sciences courses, Algebra, or Biology.
STEM Educator Pipeline: Doing the Math on Recruiting Math and Science Teachers
The report uses data from the ACT college readiness assessment to examine the feasibility of meeting the federal STEM Teacher Pathway program goal of producing 100,000 new, high-quality math and science teachers in the next decade.
Student- and Teacher-Reported Behavioral Measures: Do They Agree? (PDF, 12 pages)
This brief addresses key questions about the academic behaviors of middle school students.
Noncollege-Bound Students: A Closer Look (PDF, 12 pages)
This brief examines the academic preparation of high school students who do not plan to go to college.
Early Monitoring and Long-Term College Success in Oklahoma (PDF, 14 pages)
This report describes the differences in early and long-term college outcomes for Oklahoma ACT-tested students between those who were monitored early with ACT Explore and ACT Plan and those who did not take these two assessments prior to taking the ACT Test.
Help Wanted: Many Youth Lack Education for Modern Workforce (PDF, 6 pages)
Over the past decade, educational attainment of youth has been stagnant with large, persistent gaps in attainment by race/ethnicity, gender, and 8th grade test scores. This study shows that growing workforce demand for well-educated workers will leave many young workers with frequent unemployment spells, chronically low wages, and low wage growth.
Measuring Progress in Core High School Courses: Insights into Value-Added Measures of Teacher Effectiveness (PDF, 14 pages)
This brief, a companion to Principles for Measuring Growth Towards College and Career Readiness, demonstrates a district-level value-added analysis for measuring progress in high school Algebra 1 and Biology courses, and delves into methodological conditions and considerations of using value-added models to measure individual teacher effectiveness.
Principles for Measuring Growth Towards College and Career Readiness (PDF, 14 pages)
This paper develops five principles educators and policymakers should consider when designing assessment and accountability systems that use growth models for the purpose of improving the college and career readiness of high school graduates.
Rising to the Challenge of College and Career Readiness: A Framework for Effective Practices (PDF, 16 pages)
This paper examines how district, schools, and classroom educators can implement the Core Practice Framework to help students master a content-rich curriculum and better prepare them for college and careers.
Staying on Target: The Importance of Monitoring Student Progress toward College and Career Readiness (PDF, 12 pages)
This report supports the need for an integrated, longitudinal data-driven system to prepare all high school graduates for college and career.
Making Effective Use of ACT's Longitudinal Assessment System (PDF, 14 pages)
This report examines how middle and high schools are using ACT's longitudinal assessment system for student and school improvement and provides recommendations for ramping up the quality of implementation and maximizing the benefits resulting from using the system.
Do Race/Ethnicity-based Student Achievement Gaps Grow Over Time? (PDF, 10 pages)
This brief investigates race/ethnicity-based growth in achievement gaps for ACT-tested 2011 high school graduates.
Enhancing College and Career Readiness and Success: The Role of Academic Behaviors
One of the biggest challenges in raising student achievement and reducing dropout is early identification of those students who would benefit most from intervention. This Information Brief describes how careful attention to students' development of strong academic behaviors can enhance student success.
Defining Credentials for the Public Workforce System (PDF, 9 pages)
This paper outlines how the National Career Readiness Certificate meets the definition of "credential" as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration's Training and Employment Guidance Letter 15-10.
What Are ACT/NCEA College and Career Readiness Targets? (PDF, 4 pages)
This report discusses ACT/NCEA College and Career Readiness Targets, indicators of a student's college and career readiness level for Grades 3–7. By linking to ACT's College Readiness Benchmarks, the Targets and Benchmarks define a path to College and Career Readiness throughout the Grade 3–12 experience.
The Advanced Placement Program Benefits Mainly Well-Prepared Students Who Pass AP Exams
This brief, a summary of recent research by ACT's National Center for Educational Achievement, shows that having more students enrolled in AP courses does not necessarily mean more students having success in college.
"You Can Go to College": Foster High School (PDF, 14 pages)
This case study highlights the achievements and advancements made by Foster High School, a Texas school with a substantial enrollment of minority students, and the policies and practices that have contributed to these achievements.
Readiness and Success: Statewide Implementation of EXPLORE and PLAN (PDF, 13 pages)
EXPLORE®, PLAN®, and the ACT® allow teachers, counselors, and students to track academic progress from eighth through twelfth grades on skills directly related to college preparation.
Statewide Administration of the ACT: A Key Component in Improving Student Access to College and Work (PDF, 13 pages)
Statewide administration of the ACT provides all students, including those who have never considered college as an option, with the opportunity to identify academic strengths and weaknesses, explore educational and career interests, set high standards for academic achievement, and prepare to meet their educational and career goals.
Core Practices in Math & Science: An Investigation of Consistently Higher Performing Schools in Five States
These case studies are part of a larger study on effective practices and policies, conducted in 2007–2008.