Information Brief 2013-36

Degree Completion or Transfer by ACT Composite Score and Race/Ethnicity

Among Students Enrolled in a Two-Year Postsecondary Institution

Students’ Chances of Completing an Associate’s Degree or Transferring to an In-State Four-Year Postsecondary Institution within Three Years of Enrolling in a Two-Year Postsecondary Institution by ACT Composite Score and Race/Ethnicity

ACT ScoreWhite studentsMinority students
109%6%
1110%7%
1211%8%
1313%10%
1414%11%
1516%13%
1618%15%
1720%17%
1822%19%
1925%22%
2027%25%
2130%28%
2233%32%
2336%35%
2440%39%
2543%43%
2646%47%
2750%51%
2853%55%
2957%59%
3060%63%
3163%67%
3267% 
3370% 
3472% 
35  
36  

Note: Underrepresented racial/ethnic minority students included African American, American Indian, and Hispanic students. Results based on data from nearly 66,000 ACT-tested students who enrolled in a two-year postsecondary institution as new students in fall 2000 through 2006. Forty Institutions from two state systems were represented. Degree completion from initial institution was tracked. For a more detailed description of the study, see ACT Research Report 2013-5.

A recent ACT study1 that included data from 40 two-year postsecondary institutions from two state systems found that the typical chances of completing an associate’s degree or transferring to an in-state four-year postsecondary institution within three years was 9 percentage points higher for White students than for underrepresented racial/ethnic minority students (24% versus 15%, respectively).

However, when students’ academic achievement levels (as measured by Composite score on the ACT® college readiness assessment) were taken into account, degree completion or transfer rates were more similar between White and racial/ethnic minority students. For example, for students with an ACT Composite score of 22, White students had a 33% chance of degree completion or transfer, compared to a 32% chance for minority students.

For students with ACT Composite scores of 25 or above, chances of completing an associate’s degree or transferring to a four-year postsecondary institution for minority students were the same as or slightly higher than those for White students.


1 Justine Radunzel and Julie Noble, Differential Effects on Student Demographic Groups of Using ACT College Readiness Assessment Composite Score, ACT Benchmarks, and High School Grade Point Average for Predicting Long-Term College Success through Degree Completion, ACT Research Report 2013-5 (Iowa City, IA: ACT, Inc., 2013).


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