National Institute on Aging

The Huge Racial Gap in College Readiness

act-reportAccording to the latest report from the American College Testing Program detailing the results of graduating high school students’ performance on the ACT college admissions test, only 5 percent of all African American test takers showed that they were “college ready” in all four subject areas of English, reading, mathematics, and science. The American College Testing Program defines college readiness as a student having at least a 50 percent chance of achieving a grade of B or higher in a college-level introductory course and having a 75 percent chance of obtaining a grade of C or higher.

The report found that 34 percent of African American test takers were college ready in English. But only 16 percent of Black students were college ready in reading, 14 percent in mathematics, and 10 percent in science. Only one in 20 Black students were college-ready in all four subject areas.

In contrast, 75 percent of White students were deemed college ready in English, 54 percent in reading, 53 percent in mathematics, and 45 percent in science. One third of all White students were deemed college ready in all four subjects, more than six times the rate for African American students.

Some 240,000 African American high school seniors in 2013 took the ACT test, up from 196,000 just four years ago. The average ACT score for Black students was 16.9 (on a scale from 1 to 36). This was down slightly from 17.0 the year before. The average score for White students in 2013 was 22.2, also down slightly. The significant racial gap in ACT test scores has remained relatively constant in recent years.


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  1. caribbean queen says:

    American schools are failing every child. These standardized tests are testing basic stuff (act ‘science’ is mainly a test of familiarity with how the act defines ‘science’). these tests are gamed so much as to make their results meaningless. get rid of all standardized testing and get a NEW curriculum for the 21st century, or this country is beyond doomed.

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