Hispanic ACT Score Holds Steady; Number of College-Bound Students Continues to Rise

Hispanic ACT Score Holds Steady; Number of College-Bound Students Continues to Rise


Iowa City, IA–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–August 16, 2006–The average ACT composite score for Hispanic high school graduates this year was unchanged from last year at 18.6, as the number of Hispanic students taking the ACT reached another record. Although the 18.6 average composite score is the same as last year, it has increased two-tenths of a point during the past five years. During that same time, the number of Hispanic high school graduates taking the ACT has risen from 66,770 to 85,796, a 28 percent increase.

ACT’s Chief Executive Officer, Richard L. Ferguson says it’s encouraging that more Hispanic students are planning to attend college, because it indicates that they’re raising expectations for the future. Research has shown that it is common to see test scores decline as the number of test-takers rises, so the fact that the Hispanic score is holding steady or growing slightly over five years is a very positive sign.

The national average ACT composite score for all students in the Class of 2006 was 21.1, an increase of two-tenths of a point over last year’s graduating class.

First Year for Writing Test Scores

Results from the optional ACT Writing Test, launched in February 2005, are reported this year for the first time. More than 33,000 Hispanic high school grads—39 percent of all Hispanic test-takers—took the ACT Writing Test. Most U.S. colleges and universities don’t require a writing score for admissions. Among the entire student population that took the ACT, only 36% took the optional Writing Test.

Hispanic graduates who took the Writing Test earned an average score of 7.4 on a scale of 2 to 12. The national average for all students was 7.7.

The Importance of Taking Core Curriculum

ACT score results point to the importance of taking a challenging program of courses in high school and suggest that far too few students are doing so. Hispanic students who reported taking ACT’s recommended core curriculum in high school—at least four years of English and three years each of math (algebra and higher), science, and social studies—earned an average composite score of 19.5 on the ACT, while those who took less than this core curriculum earned an average score nearly two points lower—17.6.

Just over half (52%) of Hispanic graduates who took the ACT reported taking the core curriculum, while more than a third (36%) reported that they took less than core. Twelve percent of test-takers didn’t report which high school courses they completed. Hispanic students who took the highest-level sequence of math courses in high school—Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus—had an average score on the ACT Math Test more than five points higher than students who reported taking less than three years of math.

In science, students who reported taking Biology, Chemistry, and Physics had a score on the ACT Science Test that was two-and-a-half points higher than students reporting that they took less than three years of Natural Science courses.

Each year, ACT scores reveal a consistent message that’s true for all students—anyone who plans to attend college must graduate with the skills needed for college-level coursework. ACT research clearly shows that the only way to do that is to take challenging, college-prep courses in high school.

College Readiness A Concern for Hispanic Students

Hispanic students increased their college readiness slightly in math and reading this year, and held steady in science and English. However, ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks indicate that the majority of all students—including Hispanic students—are lacking some of the skills they’ll need during their first year of college in each of the four subject areas (English, math, reading, and science). These benchmarks are scores on the four ACT subject tests that indicate a high probability that a student will earn a “C” or higher in the respective courses during their first year of college. Scores reveal:

— Less than half of Hispanic students (48%) reached or exceeded the College Readiness Benchmark score—18—on the ACT English Test, indicating they are likely to earn a “C” or higher in a first-year college English composition course.

— Only one-third (33%) of Hispanic students reached or exceeded the benchmark score of 21 on the ACT Reading Test, indicating they are ready to succeed in first-year college social science courses.

— Just 25 percent of Hispanic test-takers met or exceeded the College Readiness Benchmark on the ACT Math Test (a score of 22), indicating a high probability of earning a “C” or higher in college algebra.

— Only 12 percent met or exceeded the ACT Science Test benchmark score of 24, indicating readiness for a college biology course.

— Just 9% of Hispanic students met the College Readiness Benchmarks in all four subject areas of English, reading, math, and science.

The results suggest that too many students are not academically prepared to succeed in their first year of college, according to Ferguson. Ferguson added that schools need to identify students who are falling behind and provide assistance at an earlier age, to ensure that they are taking the courses they need to prepare them for success after high school. In addition, schools and communities nationwide must look at the quality of the courses being taken by all students.

The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement test made up of four separate exams in English, reading, mathematics and science, plus an optional writing test.

The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score. ACT scores are accepted at virtually all colleges and universities across the nation. The test is administered in all 50 states. More than 1.2 million graduates in the Class of 2006 took the ACT.

Hispanic ACT Score Holds Steady; Number of College-Bound Students Continues to Rise