Not ready for college
Graduating high school seniors who took the ACT college entrance exam this year were woefully unprepared for college-level work, according to test results released Tuesday.
Almost 60 percent of the students who sat for the exam were inadequately prepared for college-level algebra, and nearly 75 percent were insufficiently prepared for college biology, an indication that many students may struggle or need remediation to succeed in higher education or job training. The national composite average of 20.9on a scale of 1 to 36was the same as last year's.
Only 21 percent of the students were prepared for college-level work in the four tested areas of English composition, algebra, social sciences, and biology.
"It's very likely that hundreds of thousands of students are going to have a harder time because of a disconnect between their plans for college and the cold reality of their readiness for college," says Richard Ferguson, chief executive officer of ACT. He says students don't take enough challenging courses in high school and that the courses they do take are not demanding enough.
The readiness gap was particularly acute among African-American high school students: only 5 percent were prepared for college-level biology, 21 percent for social studies, and 10 percent for college algebra.
The ACT developed the benchmarks to measure whether students were adequately prepared to earn at least a C in a college-level course. This year, the ACT added a benchmark for reading, which found about half the high school students tested were prepared for college-level reading comprehension.
A majority of students nationwide take the SAT college entrance exam, but the ACT is the favored test in about half the states. About 1.2 million graduates took the ACT at some point in their high school career, representing about 40 percent of the 2005 high school class.