Statistics from ACT, Inc., the makers of the college examination, indicate that most studentswho take the test are insufficiently prepared for college. An article in last week’s education journal, Education Week revealed “60% of the class of 2012 failed to reach the benchmarks in two of the four sections of the test.” Those four sections include reading, writing, mathematics, and science.
A perfect score for each section is 36, but this year’s average score, which remained the same as those for the past five years, was 21.1. The journal article
maintains, “In this year’s report, 25 percent of all tested high school graduates met the mark in all four subjects—the same percentage as last year. . . Fifteen
percent of the test-takers met one subject benchmark, 17 percent met two, and
15 percent met three. Twenty-eight percent failed to meet the minimum standard
in any area.”
The ACT is generally more curriculum-based than the SAT, so these statistics relate directly to the rigor of the high school experience. Christina Theokas, the director of research for an advocacy group based in Washington, asserts, “Students need to be better prepared through the pipeline leading into high school, and once they’re in advanced courses, educators need to ensure that those students are getting a rigorous experience.”
More students are taking the ACT because some states mandate it for all juniors,
regardless of their intention to attend post-secondary education. However, the increase in the number of test takers alone does not account for such lackluster performance. “The ACT report supports the adoption of the Common Core State Standards. It also recommends aligning standards to a rigorous core curriculum for all high school students and expanding rigorous high school courses.”
Note that the key word here is RIGOR! Having high expectations for all students, and providing challenging coursework that allows students to think can reverse this discouraging trend.