Wednesday, August 24, 2011

ACT Study Finds 25% of College Graduates are College-Ready

As schools open, many juniors and seniors will be preparing for their SAT and ACT testing for college applications.  This can be a stressful time for both the parents and the teens.

College attendance has steadily increased since 2000 (up 22%), with 68% of high school graduates enrolled in two- or four-year college program in 2010. However, ACT’s annual study of college readiness shows that only 25% of current high school graduates are actually prepared for college.

The study uses empirically derived, ACT College Readiness Benchmarks which are the minimum scores required on ACT subject area tests to indicate if a student is 50% likely to earn a B or better or 75% likely to earn a C or better in first-year college courses.

Other key findings from the study are summarized graphically in a convenient infographic that you can access here:

ACT suggests the following steps for parents hoping to ensure that students are college-ready by graduation:
1.       Know the essential expectations of a core curriculum. Some states have adopted Common Core State Standards, but many colleges and universities expect incoming students to have taken more than the state’s requirements. Be certain that your student is working toward the requirements of his or her intended college, even if those differ from the requirements of the school or state. ACT recommends a minimum of four years of English, and three years each of mathematics, science, and social studies.
2.       Encourage students to take challenging high school courses. A key determiner of college readiness is not just the number of courses taken in high school and grades earned, but the rigor and standards applied to performance in those classes.
3.       Intervene early. Gaps in foundational skills and knowledge are best remediated in upper-elementary and middle school, so that students can undertake more advanced learning and effectively prepare for college in high school.
4.       Pay attention not just to academic readiness, but to behavioral readiness and education and career planning – an emphasis on scores and test results alone cannot guarantee that a student will be well-prepared for college.

You can read the full study here.

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