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Only one-fourth of seniors ready for college, ACT says

August 17, 2011 |  1:03 pm


ACT, the nonprofit that offers college-entrance tests similar to the SATs, has put out its annual report, "The Condition of College and Career Readiness," which says that such readiness is continuing to improve among U.S. high school graduates.

Good news, right? Well, sort of.

ACT has determined that students need to reach a certain score in each of the four areas covered by the test — science, math, reading and English — to be considered likely to be successful in college. Reaching that score suggests the student has a 50% chance of earning a grade of B or higher, or a 75% chance of earning a C or higher in a typical college course.

More than 1.6 million high school graduates took the ACT this year — or 49% of the entire U.S. graduating class. Of the total number of students who took the test, just 25% met or surpassed all four of the ACT college readiness benchmarks.

In other words, just one-quarter of American students are ready to go to college after graduating high school. And that's an improvement over last year.

About 28% of graduating high school seniors did not meet the benchmark in any of the four subject matters. An additional 15% met the benchmark in just one subject.

Not good.

In an ACT news release, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan acknowledged that American students are making "incremental" progress toward being able to complete college work, but said: "These ACT results are another sign that states need to raise their academic standards and commit to education reforms that accelerate student achievement."

Jon Erickson, the interim president of ACT's education division was a bit more positive. "Although growth has been slow, it's been consistent," he said in the same release. "Things appear to be moving in the right direction."

For the record, the percentage of students achieving or surpassing all four benchmark scores was up 1% from last year.

A comparison of test results by state shows that students from Connecticut and Massachusetts did especially well on the test, while students from Mississippi and Tennessee were at the bottom of the pack.


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