Information Brief 2012-2

ACT College Readiness Benchmark Attainment by Mother's Level of Education

The mother's level of education is a common indicator of family wealth and resources available in the home. The ACT® test includes student-reported information on the mother's level of education. The chart below shows that attainment of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in English, mathematics, reading, and science is related to how much education the student's mother received. Overall, about 23% of graduates met all 4 Benchmarks. But student preparation differs sharply depending on whether or not their mother earned a bachelor's degree. Only 6% of students whose mothers had not completed high school met all 4 Benchmarks as compared with 13% of students whose mothers stopped their education with high school. Student preparation rates increase several percentage points if the mother has some postsecondary training. The readiness rate rises sharply to 33% for students whose mothers earned a bachelor's degree.

ACT College Readiness Benchmark Attainment by Mother's Level of Education

Mother’s Education and College Readiness
Mother's EducationPercent of All
ACT-Tested Students
Percent Who Met
All 4 Benchmarks
Less than high school 86
High school graduate/GED2413
Business/technical school or certificate616
Some college, no degree or certificate1519
Associate's degree (2 years)1119
Bachelor's degree (4 years)2333
1–2 years of graduate study (MA, MBA, etc.)937
Doctorate/professional degree (PhD, MD, JD, etc.)245
Overall 10023

Note: Based on data from 700,009 ACT-tested 2011 high school graduates who reported mother's education. This count reflects a nonresponse rate of about 57% and may not be representative of the underlying population of ACT-tested high school graduates.

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