Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

ACT Says More Intervention Needed to Improve College Readiness

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

ACT Says More Intervention Needed to Improve College Readiness

Article excerpt

Atleast 60 percent of 2012 U.S. college-bound high school graduates are at risk when il comes to success in college This is the finding f"»lof ACT's annual report, The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2012. The report is based on scores earned by graduating seniors who took the ACT College and Career Readiness exam - this year a record-breaking 51 percent of all U.S. high school graduates.

ACT, an independent, nonprolil organization with more than half a century history of producing data-based assessments and research, is respected for its continual development of assessments that determine not only college readiness but also provide the most advanced measure of workplace skills. In the future, ACT's role will expand into research on student behavior and goals, and will combine all die findings to help individuals prepare for success from kindergarten to career.

Recognizing the importance of early intervention for promoting academic success, ACT has recently launched a ''next generation" assessment system that will monitor grade school through high school.

ACT research demonstrates die critical role early monitoring and intervention can play for at-risk students. The "next generation" initiative is designed to provide students, parents and educators with information on several measures of readiness to ensure that students are on track for academic success when they start school and as they continue throughout high school.

In a nutshell, this report shows that for this cohort of tested students, although there lias been slight improvement in the subjects of math and science, far too many who are college bound are underprepared for the academic rigors of college and career to be successful. The ACT report data can be used to improve college and career readiness for the next generation of students making their way through the U.S. education system.

The good news of the report is that percentages of high school graduates who met or surpassed the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in math and science each rose for the third consecutive year, rising three percent in each category since 2008, Although this shows improvement, fewer than 46 percent achieved die math benchmark, and only 31 percent met the science benchmark.

In fact, 28 percent of students who took the ACT test didn't meet any of the four college-readiness benchmarks in English, math, reading and science. Another 15 percent met only one of the four benchmarks, and 17 percent met just two. Only a quarter of the ACT- tested students met all four benchmarks, and that percent is unchanged from the previous year.

And although college-readiness levels in English and reading ire higher than in malh and science, improvement in those areas lias been flat. The data show that 67 percent of ACT test takers in 2012 met 01 surpassed the ACT benchmark in English. Fifty-two percent met the benchmark in reading. However, these scores arc actually one percentage point lower than scores in 2008.

The improvements seen in math and science, aldiough actual scores are lower than in English and reading, might be attributed to statewide initiatives related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) projects.

Jon Erickson, ACT education president, says: "STEM programs may well have helped move the needle in terms of math and science." He says there is clearly much more work to be done. "Research into the impact of statewide STEM initiatives on student achievement could provide lessons for improving other areas of student learning," he suggests.

"And just as importantly, we need to ensure that every student and teacher has a powerful system dial provides insights and direction to help guide students throughout die entire continuum of lifelong learning."

College-readiness levels are particularly low among Hispanic and African-American students. More than half these students met none of the four readiness benchmarks. …

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