Report: Many Students Not Ready for College and the Workforce

By Chris Hassan
Posted August 22, 2012 02:00 PM

Many students not ready for college-level courses.
Many students not ready for college-level courses.
The ACT provides admissions officers with additional information on prospective college students that can help them make more informed decisions as to who they accept. However, in addition to showing colleges and universities how knowledgeable students are in academic subjects like reading and mathematics, ACT scores can also reveal students' level of college readiness.

Based on the findings of their new report, The Condition of College & Readiness 2012, ACT officials have found that many students are not as prepared for college as they could be. In order to produce the report, officials reviewed scores from the ACT college and career readiness exam, which was taken by 52% of graduating high school seniors from the class of 2012.

Many Students at Risk

Based on the report’s findings, at least 60% of college-bound graduates are at risk of not succeeding in college and their careers. Overall, 28% of test takers failed to meet all four of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks for English, reading, mathematics and science. An additional 17% of students met two benchmarks, while 15% met only one. What this means is these associate’s and bachelor’s degree seekers could struggle during their first year of college.

The report reveals that the majority of Caucasian and Asian American students managed to exceed the benchmarks in each of the areas, except science. Meanwhile, more than half of African American and Hispanic test takers were unable to meet any of the four benchmarks.

"Far too many high school graduates are still falling short academically," said Jon Whitmore, ACT chief executive officer, in a statement. "We need to do more to ensure that our young people improve. The advanced global economy requires American students to perform at their highest level to compete in the future job market and maintain the long-term economic security of the U.S."

Some Cause for Celebration

While many of the report’s findings were troubling, it did contain its fair share promising data. For the third consecutive year, the percentages of students who met or exceeded the benchmarks for mathematics and science increased. Since 2008, the number of test takers who scored better in these academic subjects rose by three percentage points.

Jon Erickson, ACT Education president, thinks that individual states’ efforts to improve students’ performance in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – or STEM subjects – may be partly responsible for these results.

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