ACT released their 2017 scores, and we still have yet to see any noticeable improvement in students’ college readiness. In fact “underserved students” lagged behind.
Two promises we received from Common Core advocates. The first was that the standards would improve college readiness. The second was that Common Core would help decrease the achievement gap. So far the standards have failed to deliver on both counts.
From the ACT press release:
Underserved students lag far behind their peers when it comes to college and career readiness, and the more underserved characteristics that students possess, the less likely they are to be ready. These findings are reported in The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2017, ACT’s annual score report, which was released today.
Underserved students, who represent nearly half (46 percent) of ACT-tested 2017 U.S. high school graduates, are defined as students who would be the first generation in their family to attend college, come from low-income families and/or self-identify their race/ethnicity as minority. Research suggests students with any of these three characteristics are less likely than others to have access to high-quality educational and career planning opportunities and resources.
Only 9 percent of ACT-tested graduates who possessed all three underserved characteristics showed strong readiness for college coursework, meeting three or four of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks (English, mathematics, reading and science). Even among students who met only one of the underserved criteria, just 26 percent showed strong readiness. In comparison, the majority (54 percent) of graduates who were not underserved showed strong readiness for college.
Conversely, the majority of underserved students—including 81 percent of those with all three underserved characteristics—achieved only one or none of the four ACT benchmarks. Those students are likely to struggle in college-level coursework.
“That kind of shocked us,” ACT CEO Marten Roorda told The Washington Post. “We knew it was bad, but we didn’t know it was this bad.”
ACT reported that they found overall scores remained steady, but that a large group of students still are not college ready.
Readiness levels have remained fairly steady over the past several years among ACT-tested graduates overall.
Thirty-nine percent of the 2017 graduates met three or four of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, up from 38 percent in 2016, but down from 40 percent the year before.
The proportion of graduates showing virtually no readiness for college coursework remained sizable. Among 2017 graduates, 33 percent met none of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, suggesting they are likely to struggle in first-year college coursework in all four core subject areas. That compares to 34 percent last year and 31 percent in each of the three previous years.
Roorda notes that the current system isn’t working (which would be Common Core and its assessments). Unfortunately, the conclusion he draws from this is that schools should double down on more data less education fads.
“What our education system is doing now is not working well enough for far too many of the country’s young people,” he said. “ACT has invested significant money and resources to explore innovative ways to improve learning and assessment. Our goal is to positively impact student outcomes, not only in terms of their academic skills but also in terms of their social and emotional learning skills. ACT urges schools, districts and states to take a holistic approach to college and career readiness.”
And gee, ACT happens to have a social-emotional learning assessment schools can use.