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ACT report: Not enough Latino high school students taking right courses for college

LatinaLista — More Latino students are getting the message that college is important. Unfortunately, according to the newly released ACT College and Career Readiness report, while they know it’s important, Latino students are still not enrolled in the classes they need to be in to have academic success in college.

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The ACT report starts out with some good news — more Latino high school students want to be ready for college and are taking the ACT exams — 158,000 students, which is up from 86,000 five years ago.

Also, the percentage of Latino students who met all four of the college readiness benchmarks jumped from 9 percent in 2006 to 11 percent. The study shows that more Latino students met the benchmarks for college readiness in English (English (46 percent), followed by reading (34 percent), mathematics (27 percent) and science (14 percent).

Yet, and here’s where the bad news starts, about half of Latino high school graduates did not meet any of the four ACT benchmark scores. The ACT benchmark score is important because it indicates whether or not the student is likely to get a passing grade in that class in college.

ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks, based on actual grades earned by students in college, give ACT the unique ability to define college and career readiness and report student performance results relative to that goal. The benchmarks specify the minimum score needed on each ACT subject-area test to indicate that a student has a 50 percent chance of earning a grade of B or higher or about a 75 percent chance of earning a C or higher in a typical first-year, credit-bearing college course in that subject area (English composition, college algebra, introductory social science, and biology).

While 11 percent of Latino students did pass all the test benchmarks, they only did better than African Americans of whom only 4 percent passed the benchmarks. Thirty-nine percent of Asian Americans; 30 percent of White students and 12 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native students outperformed Latino students.

ACT researchers reported that of all the Latino students who took the ACT only 68 percent actually took the minimum core curriculum in high school which includes four years of English and three years each of mathematics, science, and social studies.

It was found that the students who enrolled in this curriculum were more than twice as likely to do better on the ACT. This year’s average ACT composite score among Latino graduates was 18.6

“The rapidly growing number of Hispanic students taking the ACT and thinking about attending college in recent years is truly impressive,” said Cynthia B. Schmeiser, ACT’s Education Division president and Chief Operating Officer.

“The finding that more Hispanic students are meeting the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks is particularly encouraging in that light. However, we can’t ignore the fact that far too many Hispanic graduates are ill-prepared to succeed in college and career academically, and that much work must be done to ensure that all students graduate from high school ready for the next step.”


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