Every year, ACT provides an update on the college and career readiness of ACT-tested high school graduates. We offer this report as a service to inform policymakers and practitioners about selected indicators of effectiveness and how that translates into readiness. It is designed to stimulate discussion, inquiry, and action.
The 2011 report highlights some important facts:
ACT-tested U.S. high school graduates appear to be making slow but steady progress at becoming ready for college and career. The 2011 ACT test results show a growing percentage of students meeting all four of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, increasing 1 percentage point over last year and 4 percentage points since 2006. This has occurred as the population of ACT-tested graduates has grown to new levels—up to over 49% of the 2011 graduating class—and become more diverse.
The ACT report also indicates there is substantial room for improvement in college and career readiness. Among 2011 ACT-tested graduates, a combined total of 43 percent met either none (28 percent) or only one (15 percent) of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks. Those students are lacking many of the skills they will need to succeed in credit-bearing first-year college courses and workforce training programs this fall.
Test scores are extremely important in measuring whether or not students are on track for college and career readiness, but they aren't the only factor that impacts readiness. Behavioral readiness and educational and career planning efforts are also very important dimensions of college and career readiness.
ACT has long defined college and career readiness as the acquisition of the knowledge and skills a student needs to succeed. ACT's definition of college and career readiness was adopted by the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which serves as validation of our extensive research and ACT's College and Career Readiness Standards™.
For our nation and our states to see real progress, it is imperative to begin monitoring academic achievement and intervening with corrective actions early to make sure younger students remain on target for college and career readiness.
Both the National and each individual state's reports can be found on our website.
Interim President, Education Division