Iowa City, IA–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–August 15, 2007–The average ACT composite score for Hispanic U.S. high school graduates rose in 2007 for the second time in the past five years, as the number of Hispanic students taking the ACT reached another record high. The percentage of Hispanic test-takers who are ready for college-level coursework also grew.
Hispanic high school graduates in the class of 2007 who took the ACT—a record 93,137 students—earned an average composite score of 18.7 on the college admission and placement exam, up from 18.5 in 2003 and from 18.6 last year. The national average ACT composite score for all students in the graduating class of 2007 was 21.2, a figure which has also grown over the past five years. The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score.
The number of Hispanic ACT test-takers nationally has been rapidly growing in recent years, suggesting college aspirations may be increasing among Hispanic students. Since 2003, the number of Hispanic high school grads who have taken the ACT has risen by 23 percent, more than twice the rate of the national increase in test-takers overall (11 percent) during the same period. Overall, more than 1.3 million 2007 U.S. high school graduates, also a record number, took the ACT.
Scores also have trended upward for nearly all other racial/ethnic groups since 2003. All groups, with the exception of African American graduates, posted an increase on their average ACT composite score this year compared to last, with Asian American students showing a sizeable gain of 0.3 point. Scores for African American students this year are 0.1 point higher than in 2003, but have fluctuated slightly in the intervening years, dropping 0.1 this year compared to last.
Asian American students again earned the highest average composite score at 22.6, followed by Caucasian students at 22.1, American Indian/Alaska Native students at 18.9, Hispanic students at 18.7, and African American students at 17.0.
College Readiness Improves
The results suggest a growing number of Hispanic high school graduates are prepared for college-level coursework. The percent of ACT-tested Hispanic graduates who met or surpassed ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks, indicating they are ready to succeed in specific first-year credit-bearing college courses, has improved over the past five years in English, math, and science, as has the percent who met or surpassed the College Readiness Benchmarks in all four subject areas. College readiness in reading has remained stable among Hispanic students during this period.
The percentage of Hispanic test-takers who met or surpassed the College Readiness Benchmark on the ACT Math Test has risen in three of the past five years, increasing from 23 percent in 2003 to 26 percent in 2007. The percentage who met or surpassed the benchmark on the ACT Science Test was up for the second time since 2003, increasing from 11 percent that year to 13 percent in 2007. In addition, the proportion of Hispanic students who met or surpassed the College Readiness Benchmarks in all four subject areas increased by 2 percent compared to 2003, rising from 8 to 10 percent.
According to Richard L. Ferguson, ACT’s chief executive officer and chairman of the board, these upward trends show more Hispanic students are graduating from high school with the academic skills they need to succeed in college and workforce training programs. Ferguson said that we still have a long way to go in ensuring that all high school graduates are prepared for the next level, but the progress we’re seeing is encouraging.
Results from ACT’s PLAN assessment, which is a precursor exam to the ACT designed to help 10th grade students prepare for the future, point to likely improvement in college readiness among Hispanic high school graduates in the future. PLAN results for 2007 indicate a greater percentage of Hispanic 10th grade students are on track to becoming college-ready in all four subject areas than were five years ago.
Core Course Rigor Called into Question
Despite the increases in college readiness in this year’s results, the ACT score report suggests that core courses offered in U.S. high schools, by and large, still need more rigor to adequately prepare students for success in college coursework, particularly in math and science. The results suggest students must typically take additional courses beyond the recommended core curriculum in order to be college-ready.
According to Ferguson, core courses in our high schools too often fail to teach students the essential knowledge and skills they need to succeed in first-year college courses such as college algebra and college biology.
ACT has long recommended that students take a minimum core curriculum of four years of English and three years each of math (Algebra 1 and higher), social studies, and science to prepare for college.
Among 2007 Hispanic ACT-tested graduates who took Algebra 1 & 2 and geometry—the minimum number of core courses in math—only 8 percent met or surpassed the College Readiness Benchmark on the ACT Mathematics Test, indicating that they are ready to take a college algebra course. By comparison, up to 55 percent of Hispanic students who took four or more years of math met or surpassed the benchmark.
Similarly, only 9 percent of the graduates who took the minimum number of core courses in science met or surpassed the College Readiness Benchmark on the ACT Science Test, while 19 percent of those who also took physics met or surpassed the benchmark.
Ferguson said it is always a good idea for students to take higher level courses in high school, but that taking the basic core curriculum should enable most students to be ready for their first year of college. He also said that we must make sure that the core courses offered in our high schools are rigorous and provide students with the essential skills they need to succeed after they graduate.
Statewide Use of ACT Increases
More and more states are taking steps to help their high school graduates become college-ready by requiring all students to take the ACT as part of their statewide academic assessment programs. Colorado and Illinois have been administering the ACT to all public school 11th grade students since 2001. Both states have seen significant improvement in the percentage of their graduates who meet ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks, as well as steady increases in college enrollment rates among Hispanic and other underrepresented minority students, since 2002.
In addition, Michigan began administering the ACT to all 11th graders this past spring, and both Kentucky and Wyoming will join the ranks next year. Wyoming will offer students the choice of taking either the ACT or ACT’s WorkKeys exams, which measure workforce skills. A number of other states are in various stages of discussion in this statewide adoption process.
Hispanic males in the class of 2007 earned an average composite score of 18.8 on the ACT, while Hispanic females earned an average score of 18.6. Hispanic males continued to earn higher average scores than Hispanic females on ACT’s math and science tests, while females again earned higher average scores than males on the English and reading tests. The same is true of males and females nationally.
Hispanic females were more likely than males to take the ACT. Among Hispanic ACT-tested graduates, 58 percent were female and 42 percent were male.
Uses of ACT Scores
The overwhelming majority (90 percent) of all four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. report using ACT scores in their admission decision-making process. This percentage has not changed significantly over the past 30 years. According to the 2005 National Association for College Admission Counseling Admission Trends Survey, test scores are the second-most important factor used in undergraduate admission decisions, behind high school grades.
The majority of all four-year U.S. colleges and universities also use ACT scores for placement purposes. More than 60 percent of those institutions use ACT scores to help place students into first-year courses that match their academic skill levels. Placing students in the right courses is one important factor in helping them stay in college and persist to graduation.
ACT Writing Scores
ACT also offers an optional Writing Test which was introduced in February 2005. More than 42,000 Hispanic high school grads—46 percent of all Hispanic ACT-tested students—opted to take the ACT Writing Test in 2007. These students earned an average score of 7.3, a slight drop from 7.4 last year. The national average score for all students was 7.6, also a 0.1 point drop from 2006.
Scores on the Writing Test, which range from 2 to 12, are reported separately and are not included in the ACT composite score.
About the ACT
The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement test designed to measure the academic skills that are taught in schools and deemed important for success in first-year college courses. The average national scores for each required subject test included the ACT in 2007 were: English – 20.7, Math – 21.0, Reading – 21.5, and Science – 21.0.
The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score. ACT scores are accepted at all major colleges and universities across the nation. The test is administered in all 50 states and is taken by the majority of graduates in 26 states.
ACT is a not-for-profit organization that serves millions of people in schools, colleges, professional associations, businesses, and government agencies with programs and services that have one guiding purpose — to help people achieve education and workplace success.
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NOTE TO EDITORS/REPORTERS: This news release and accompanying documents report information about students in the high school graduating class of 2007 who took the ACT. States, districts and schools receive similar information about their students. ACT releases national and state data; ACT does not release local district or school data. You must contact district and school offices for local information.