External Author Name: 
Liam Julian

August 2006

This report is a mixed bag. On the one hand, national ACT scores rose slightly but (statistically) significantly in 2006--the average composite score was 21.1 (out of a possible 36), up from 20.9 in 2005. Yet most students are still likely to struggle once they reach college classrooms. But good news first. ACT scores in 2006 are at their highest point since 1991, with both males and females and all major ethnic groups making gains. More than 1.2 million 2006 high school graduates, 40 percent of the nation's senior class, took the test (compared to 1.4 million who sat for the SAT). Now the worse news: while the percentage of students who met or exceeded ACT's College Readiness Benchmarks rose, the majority of test-takers are still apt to encounter problems in first-year college courses. For example, only 27 percent of them met the Benchmark (a score of 24) in science, thus demonstrating readiness to succeed in college biology. Just half attained the Benchmark in reading. Taken together, barely one test-taker in five hit the mark on all four ACT exams--English, math, reading, and science. ACT believes the low percentages indicate that too few high school pupils are taking challenging core curricula. The organization's CEO, Dick Ferguson, said, "A student can take four years of math courses in high school, but if the content of those course doesn't cover essential knowledge and skills needed in college and work, then that student is less likely to be well prepared to succeed." Check out the report here. 

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