The ACT released a report highlighting key findings for the 57 percent of the 2014 high school graduating class who took the exam. The report also includes recommendations for policies and practices to increase college and career readiness.
The report outlines key findings in the following areas:
About Your Graduating Class - Nationally, 1,845,787 students—or 57% of the 2014 US graduating class—took the ACT. This represents an 18% increase in the number of ACT-tested graduates since 2010. The diversity of the test-taking population has increased: the percentage of Hispanic ACT-tested graduates in 2014 was larger than in 2010, while the percentage of Caucasian ACT-tested graduates in 2014 was smaller. Among the national 2014 ACT-tested graduating class, 18% were potential first-generation college students whose parents did not enroll in postsecondary education.
Academic Achievement - The percent of graduates meeting the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks remained relatively steady this year. The percentage of students who met the English and reading Benchmarks remained the same. The national average ACT Composite score increased by 0.1 point compared to last year. Encouragingly, in several of the states that administer the ACT to all students—Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Wyoming—the average ACT Composite score improved by 0.2 to 0.3 points.
Opportunity for Growth - ACT research has shown those students meeting three or four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks—39% of the 2014 ACT-tested graduates—have a strong likelihood of experiencing success in first-year college courses. Among 2014 test takers, 50% of core-taking students met the ACT College Readiness Benchmark in math, compared to 27% of non-core-taking students. Nearly one in four ACT-tested graduates did not plan to take a core curriculum, which translates to 405,073 more students who could have benefited from more rigorous coursework.
Student Aspirations - Encouragingly, 86% of 2014 ACT-tested graduates aspired to postsecondary education, but a significant number of those students might not actually enroll. Among the national 2013 ACT-tested graduating class, 87% aspired to attend college but only 69% actually enrolled. If this aspirational gap were fully closed, an additional 314,831 of the nation’s 2013 ACT-tested graduates would have enrolled in postsecondary education.
Included in the report are state policy recommendations. The ACT suggests that states place an increased emphasis on the following concepts:
· Advance college and career readiness through a renewed focus on teaching and learning;
· Set clear performance standards to evaluate college and career readiness;
· Implement a high-quality student assessment system;
· Support programs targeted at developing behaviors that aid students’ academic success;
· Provide all students with access to a rigorous high school core curriculum;
· Invest in early childhood education programs so that more children are ready to learn;
· Continue to implement monitoring and early warning systems that help educators identify and intervene with at-risk students;
· Continue development of thoughtful and fair teacher evaluation systems that include multiple measures of performance—including student growth data;
· Increase support for the development of STEM-related courses to meet the coming demand for a larger STEM workforce; and
· Implement policies for data-driven decision making.