College readiness remains steady

College readiness has remained fairly steady over the past several years among high school students taking the ACT test.

Thirty-nine percent of the 2017 graduates met three or four of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, up from 38 percent in 2016, but down from 40 percent the year before.

The proportion of graduates showing virtually no readiness for college coursework remained sizable, according to the ACT report. Among 2017 graduates, 33 percent met none of the four ACT College Readiness

Benchmarks, suggesting they are likely to struggle in first-year college coursework in all four core subject areas. That compares to 34 percent last year and 31 percent in each of the three previous years.

“This gap presents a major risk to our nation’s goals for postsecondary completion and economic competitiveness,” said ACT Chief Executive Officer Marten Roorda.

Education goals

Among 2017 ACT-tested graduates, 82 percent said they aspire to postsecondary education, slightly lower than 84 percent in 2016. Among 2016 ACT-tested graduates, only 64 percent actually enrolled in a postsecondary institution (2017 enrollment data is not yet available).

“This enrollment gap means that more than 400,000 of the 2016 graduates who aspired to postsecondary education did not end up enrolling,” the report said.

Four out of five 2017 graduates aspired to a two-year degree or higher, and three out of four aspired to a four-year degree or higher. Between 2013 and 2017, the percentage of students reporting aspirations of a four-year degree or higher decreased from 80 percent to 75 percent.

Greater diversity but….

The number and percent of Hispanic students taking the ACT continued to rise in 2017, adding to the diversity and representativeness of the tested population, according to the report. Average scores and readiness levels among Hispanic students improved slightly this year even as their numbers increased. Nevertheless, Hispanic and African-American students continue to lag behind their white and Asian American counterparts in terms of academic achievement and college readiness, the report said.

The report includes ACT score results from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, including 16 states that required all students to take the ACT as part of their statewide testing programs and another four states that funded ACT testing on an optional basis.

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