The ACT Holistic Framework
Planning for Future Success Starts Now
What is the ACT Holistic Framework?
Shifts in education and the workplace are changing how we must think about college and career readiness in America.
To help people navigate these shifts from kindergarten to career (K–Career), ACT has created The ACT® Holistic Framework™ for understanding education and work readiness, navigating life’s transition points, and achieving success.
Built on More than 50 Years of Research
In the early 2000s, it was clear that receiving a diploma and passing a graduation test did not ensure readiness for postsecondary experience. In fact, research and policy reports showed the opposite. Research shows the importance of nonacademic factors for predicting outcomes such as retention, persistence, and engagement in college as well as graduation from college. The ACT® Holistic Framework™ was developed based on this research and knowledge. It defines the new standard for preparing and measuring student readiness for college and careers.
Building on research conducted at ACT over the last fifty years, ACT’s Holistic Framework provides a more complete description of the knowledge and skills individuals need to know and be able to do to succeed at school and at work.
The Four Key Domains
Learn more about the four, key domains that emphasize a broad range of skills and encourage a more expansive vision of the outcomes that help to define student success.
- Core Academic Skills
- Cross-Cutting Capabilities
- Behavioral Skills
- Education and Career Navigation Skills
Core Academic Skills
A holistic model of education and workplace success must be anchored in core academic content areas. While these skills are necessary for success, they do not account for the full range of knowledge and skills that one needs for success.
Learn more about ACT solutions that you can leverage toward improving Core Academic Skills:
The nature of work is evolving. Individuals must now possess cross-cutting capabilities—including information and technology, teamwork, and critical thinking—to enhance learning and application in most, if not all, disciplines and careers.
Learn more about ACT solutions that you can leverage toward improving Cross-Cutting Capabilities:
Social Emotional Learning Skills
While not readily identified on tests or resumes, social and emotional learning skills play an important role in predicting future success. Understanding a student’s behavior can help educators determine potential problems and intervene to help students succeed.
Learn more about ACT solutions that you can leverage toward improving Social and Emotional Learning Skills:
Education and Career Navigation
Personal journeys through education and career pathways are often filled with challenges and obstacles, making progress difficult and compromise frequent.
Successful navigation of education and career paths include taking the right high school courses, selecting a college that best meets an individual's needs, exploring and choosing majors, deciding on and pursuing a specific occupation, or changing occupations during a work career.
Learn more about ACT solutions that you can leverage toward improving Education and Career Navigation:
Building on research over the last 50 years, ACT has created a holistic framework that can provide a more complete description of the knowledge and skills individuals need to know and be able to do to succeed at school and work. The framework is organized into four broad domains: Core Academic Skills; Cross-Cutting Capabilities, Behavioral Skills, and Education and Career Navigation Skills.
- ACT Complete: A Holistic Framework for Education and Workplace Success (PDF)
- Beyond Academics: A Holistic Framework for Enhancing Education and Workplace Success (PDF)
- 3 Advantages of the Holistic Framework (PDF)
- ACT Holistic Framework Overview Infographic (PDF)
- ACT Holistic Framework: Terminology Guide (PDF)
- ACT Behavioral Performance Level Descriptors - Full Report (PDF)
- Including Measures of Student Behavioral Skills in Accountability Systems - Brief (PDF)
- The Importance of Behavioral Skills and Navigation Factors for Education and Work Success - Full Report (PDF, 26 pages)
- The Development of Behavioral Performance Level Descriptors - Brief (PDF)
- The Development of Behavioral Performance Level Descriptors - Full Report (PDF, 26 pages)
- The ACT Behavioral Skills Framework: How Does it Compare to Other Behavioral Models? - Brief (PDF)
- The ACT Behavioral Skills Framework: How Does it Compare to Other Behavioral Models? - Full Report (PDF, 70 pages)
- Measuring Social and Emotional Learning Development with Behavioral Performance Level Descriptors - Brief (PDF)
Education and Career Navigation
- Education and Career Navigation: Critical for Student Progress and Success (PDF)
- The Importance of Behavioral Skills and Navigation Factors for Education and Work Success (PDF)
Also of Interest
- Building a Common Language for Career Readiness and Success: A Foundational Competency Framework for Employers and Educators (PDF)