High School Students Taking the Core Curriculum Are Not College Ready

Aug 15, 2007

ACT test results for the graduating high school class of 2007 are in. On average, scores improved modestly in many areas. But according to the ACT, high school students who take only the core curriculum aren't exactly 'college ready'.

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ACT Score Stats

  • Only 15 percent of students taking core math classes scored high enough for them to be considered college ready.
  • Only 20 percent of students taking core science classes scored high enough for them to be considered ready for introductory core college courses.
  • Overall, only 23 percent of test-takers scored high enough for them to be considered college ready.

According to ACT test results released yesterday, the graduating high school class of 2007 could have used more preparation for college.

Of the record 1.3 million students who took the test, only 23 percent scored high enough to be considered ready for introductory college courses. ACT scores showed that the lowest scoring students took only the required core curriculum. Students who took additional classes did much better.

For example, only 15 percent of the students taking core math classes scored high enough for them to be considered college ready. In comparison, 40 percent of the students who took trigonometry in addition to the core classes were considered college ready.

Why are these scores so different? Isn't the core curriculum enough?

According to Richard L. Ferguson, ACT's chief executive officer and chairman of the board, the scores are different because the core curriculum doesn't prepare students the way it should.

'Too often, core courses in our high schools fail to teach students the essential knowledge and skills they need to succeed in first-year college courses such as college algebra and college biology,' said Ferguson, ACT's chief executive officer and chairman of the board.

ACT Recommendations

ACT has long recommended that high school core courses need more rigor to properly prepare students for college level work. And the view hasn't changed.

In yesterday's news release, ACT CEO Richard L. Ferguson, noted that while the modest improvement in scores was encouraging, there is still a long way to go.

'We must take the steps necessary to ensure that the core courses offered in our high schools are rigorous and provide students with the essential skills they need to succeed in college-credit courses after they graduate,' said Ferguson.

ACT currently recommends that students take at least 4 years of English, 3 years of math, 3 years of social studies, and 3 years of science while in high school in order to properly prepare for introductory college level work.

Although most states require a specific number of years in each of these subjects, the majority of them do not have such 'rigorous' standards. In other words, most states require less than the minimum recommended by the ACT.

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