Improving College & Career Readiness

For nearly a decade, ACT has measured student progress in the context of college readiness. The Condition of College & Career Readiness is ACT’s annual report on the college readiness of the most recent high school graduating class. The data herein provide insights to catalyze and guide efforts to improve college and career readiness for the next generation of young people now making their way through the US education system.

As more students take the ACT® college readiness assessment—54% of all 2013 high school graduates—ACT’s college readiness data better reflect the entire US graduating class, providing a glimpse of the emerging educational pipeline.

A Holistic View of College Readiness

ACT research illustrates the criticality of academic readiness for student success. Our research also underscores the importance of additional complementary factors for college readiness and success, including student academic behaviors and the level of students’ interest in their chosen major or career. Together, these factors provide a more meaningful picture of readiness. To best prepare students for success, the educational system must monitor student progress and intervene using this holistic view of college readiness.

Evidence, Validity Monitoring, and Reviews of Reporting Practices Led to Minor but Important Changes in College Readiness Measures

Our commitment to continuous improvement, efforts to improve student achievement at all levels, ongoing research, user requests, and results of the 2012 ACT National Curriculum Survey® recently led ACT to make progressive modifications that are reflected in the 2013 Condition report.

  1. Reformatting the ACT College Readiness Standards. ACT recognized that tighter alignment of our ACT College Readiness Standards and the Common Core State Standards could provide a more transparent connection between them. The ACT College Readiness Standards have not changed and continue as the backbone of our assessment systems. We simply reformatted their language to better facilitate comparison between the two related sets of college-ready standards.
  2. Updating the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks. The empirically derived ACT College Readiness Benchmarks predict the likelihood of student success in credit-bearing first-year college courses corresponding to each tested subject area. Routine monitoring of their predictive validity indicated a need to update the Reading and Science Benchmarks. The 2013 Condition report inaugurates the use of these updated Benchmarks. Note that in our trend reporting, ACT College Readiness Benchmark attainment rates for years prior to 2013 will still be based on previous iterations of the Benchmarks.
  3. Changing ACT aggregate reporting practices to now include college-reportable scores for accommodated students. Beginning with the ACT Profile Report: Graduating Class 2013 and The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2013, ACT summary reports will include results from all ACT-approved accommodated administrations that result in college-reportable ACT scores. In prior years, summary reporting excluded scores for time-extended accommodated students. This change does not impact the eligibility rules for receiving accommodations nor the accommodations provided. It simply means that results for such students are now included in our summary reports.

As a trusted, nonprofit leader on college and career readiness, ACT provides data, analyses, and insights to meet the readiness and success challenges facing our nation, and more importantly, facing students. These changes, and other new efforts, strengthen our ability to meet our mission: Helping people achieve education and workplace success.