ACT Report: The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2018

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Mark Freed

The Condition of College and Career Readiness, 2018 report looks at the progress of the ACT®-tested 2018 US high school graduating class relative to college and career readiness. The data in this report are based on more than 1.9 million graduates—55% of the students in the 2018 national graduating class—who took the ACT at some time from grade 10 to 12.

ACT reported that the average mathematics score on its annual college entrance exam for the graduating class of 2018 was the lowest in 20 years with a score of 20.5 (on a 1 to 35 scale), followed scores of 20.7 in 2017, 20.6 in 2016, 20.8 in 2015, and 20.9 for the class of 2014.

Certainly the results are a compelling and sobering view of the current state of STEM readiness. Within the report is also five recommendations found on page 17. The recommendations provide a framework for starting these critical conversations about the distribution of resources, the impact of disparities on outcomes, and learners’ social and emotional needs. The ACT report made five recommendations for districts, states, and policymakers:

Give educators the resources they need to help improve educational outcomes. This includes increased funding for schools, education for professional development, and higher salaries to retain and attract educators to the field.

Assess student learning and implement improvement strategies starting early in students’ educational careers. This focuses on assessment and intervention as early as the elementary grades.

Provide equitable resources for underserved students. This focuses on students who are identified as underserved by ACT and face disparities compared to other students in their access to rigorous college preparatory curricula, high-quality educators, and support services that help create the foundation necessary for every child to succeed after high school.

Ensure that students’ education is holistic and addresses the needs of the “whole learner.” ACT acknowledges that mastering knowledge and skills is essential in preparing students to succeed in college and career, but that social and emotional learning (SEL) skills also play a critical role in allowing young people to reach their potential.

Collect, handle, and use assessment data responsibly, with special attention to maintaining its security and quality. This includes not only privacy issues but also data literacy for teachers and school and district leaders’ support for instruction.