As a not-for-profit educational research organization, ACT is committed to producing research that focuses on key issues in education and workforce development. Our goal is to serve as a data resource. We strive to provide policymakers with the information they need to inform education and workforce development policy and to give educators the tools they need to lead more students toward college and career success. What follows are some of ACT's recent and most groundbreaking research studies.
Forty-five states have adopted the Common Core State Standards. Now, efforts to implement the standards take on primary importance. ACT provides this first look at student performance relative to the Common Core State Standards and college and career readiness.
This report examines the factors that influence college and career readiness. The percentage of 8th graders on target to be ready for college-level work by the time they graduate from high school is so small that it raises questions not just about the prospect that these students can eventually be ready for college and career but also about whether they are even ready for high school.
In the research report Mind the Gaps: How College Readiness Narrows Achievement Gaps in College Success, ACT looks at steps that can be taken to improve college and career readiness and success among underserved populations. As a nation, we must close the achievement gap across racial/ethnic and family income groups. The report shows the types of policies that work to improve college and career readiness and success.
In our most recent research report, Affirming the Goal: Is College and Career Readiness an Internationally Competitive Standard?, we examine 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.
Among the motivations behind the federal government's publication of A Nation at Risk in 1983 were the desire to see more students graduate from high school prepared for college and work and the need for more students to attend and graduate from college. A Nation at Risk proposed that every US high school require graduates to take a "core" curriculuma minimum number of courses that would provide students with a "foundation of success for the after-school years." Nearly a quarter-century later, in a climate in which US workers are dealing with new forms of technology and facing the challenges of a global economy, it is not only reasonable but increasingly urgent to ask: Have we succeeded in fulfilling the goals of A Nation at Risk?
In On Course for Success, ACT and The Education Trust examine ten high schools with challenging student populations that have overcome the odds by fostering greater access to college. We found that when students are provided with high-level courses, qualified and experienced teachers, teaching that is flexible and responsive to students, and extra support when they need it, all students can be prepared to succeed.
Obtained every three to four years from middle, secondary, and postsecondary educators, this study collects data about what entering college students should know and be able to do to be ready for college-level coursework in English, math, reading, and science. The survey results inform ongoing efforts to develop, refine, and update common academic standards such as the Common Core State Standards, as well as to inform policymakers and educators. Results are also used to guide development of ACT's curriculum-based assessments to ensure they meet the needs of college and career readiness.
Breaking New Ground: Building a National Workforce Skills Credentialing System introduces the need and associated benefits for establishing a national workforce credentialing system. The report outlines the importance of bringing together a critical mass of state, national, and public and private workforce leaders to co-construct this foundational framework to address our national workforce challenges.