Student performance on the ACT essentially held steady this year, with slight improvement shown in the math and science parts of the college-entrance exam.
Still, 60 percent of the class of 2012 that took the test failed to meet benchmarks in two of the four subjects tested, putting them in jeopardy of failing in their pursuit of a college degree and careers.
The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2012, released today by the Iowa City, Iowa-based nonprofit testing organization ACT Inc., includes performance information from students in the spring graduating class who took the ACT as sophomores, juniors, or seniors. This year, 1.67 million seniors or 52 percent of the U.S. graduating class took the exam.
“I was hoping with the focus [in the education community] on career and college readiness, we’d start to see a more dramatic improvement. We are still early in that,” said ACT President Jon Erickson. A greater focus on career and college standards and more attention to teacher professional development are encouraging signs, he added, but the output from a graduating class is not apparent yet.
The average composite score was 21.1—the same as it has been for the past five years. A perfect score is 36.
ACT Inc. has set “college-readiness benchmarks” in the four subjects it tests: English/language arts, reading, mathematics, and science. That is the measure needed to predict a student has a 75 percent chance of earning a C or higher or a 50 percent chance of earning a B or higher in a typical first-year college course.
In this year’s report, 25 percent of all tested high school graduates met the mark in all four subjects—the same percentage as last year. It had steadily climbed in the previous three years.
Fifteen percent of the test-takers met one subject benchmark, 17 percent met two, and 15 percent met three. Twenty-eight percent failed to meet the minimum standard in any area. <Read more.>