The Huge Racial Gap in College Readiness as Measured by the ACT Test

The annual report on college readiness issued by the American College Testing Program shows no progress on closing the racial scoring gap on the ACT college entrance examination. The composite score for Whites in the 2017 high school graduating class was 22.4 on the ACT scoring scale of 1 to 36. The average score for Blacks was 17.1. Whites showed a 0.2 percent improvement from 2016 while Blacks posted a 0.1 point gain. Thus, the racial gap widened slightly.

Whites held a wider edge on the English part of the test with an average score of 22.1 compared to a 16 average score for Blacks.  In mathematics Whites had an average score of 21.9 compared to the average score for Blacks of 17.1. In science, the average score for Whites was 22.3 compared to an average score for Blacks of 17.4

Some 74 percent of all White ACT test takers were rated as achieving a benchmark score which demonstrated that they were ready for college-level English classes. Only 33 percent of Black students reached the college-readiness benchmark in English. More than half of all White students were deemed ready for college-level mathematics, compared to 13 percent of Black students who took the ACT. Some 47 percent of White students were rated as being ready for college-level science courses compared to only 11 percent of Blacks.

Some 35 percent of Whites who took the ACT test were deemed college ready in all four areas of English, mathematics, reading, and science. For Blacks, only 6 percent of all test takers were deemed college ready in all four areas.

The full ACT report, The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2017, may be downloaded by clicking here.


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