Often, we focus so much on high stakes tests that we fail to recognize them merely as intermediate steps to a larger goal. The SAT and ACT, for example, matter quite a lot, but mainly only for students striving for their choice of four-year college. And while we sometimes miss the big picture, the test makers always keep that test-to-college connection firmly in view.
This, in a nutshell, explains why ACT, Inc. provides ACT College Readiness Benchmarks. The College Readiness Benchmarks are the minimum scores in each section of the ACT associated with a 50% chance of earning a B or better and approximately a 75% chance of earning a C or better in the corresponding college course or courses.
- ACT English is associated with introductory English Composition classes. The ACT Benchmark for English is a scale score of 18, which is 39th percentile.
- ACT Math is associated with College Algebra courses. The ACT Benchmark for Math is a scale score of 22, which is 61st percentile.
- ACT Reading is associated with Social Sciences courses. The ACT Benchmark for Reading is a scale score of 22, which is 61st percentile.
- ACT Science is associated with introductory Biology courses. The ACT Benchmark for Science is a scale score of 23, which is 70th percentile.
How college and career ready are the 2014 ACT-tested high school graduates?
According to ACT’s report on The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2014, a little more than a quarter of last year’s high school grads met all four readiness benchmarks.
Based on the 1,845,787 high school graduates–an estimated 57% of the graduating class–who took the ACT, students seem to be most prepared in English and improving but still struggling in science:
English: 64% – – – Reading: 44% – – – Mathematics: 43% – – – Science: 37%
Only 26% of the testing population hit readiness benchmarks in all four subjects. So, based on this single assessment, nearly three-quarters of high school students do not project as entirely college ready. Fortunately, other factors play into success in college, but the implications of these benchmarks suggest that more can be done to prepare teens for the academic rigors of higher education.