New study shows one group of students is less prepared for college than their peers

Nearly two-thirds of African-American students who took the ACT failed to meet any of the test’s benchmarks that measure college readiness, according to a new report from ACT and United Negro College Fund.

The ACT benchmarks measure students’ college readiness in English, reading, mathematics, and science. Even when African-American students “successfully complete the high school coursework intended to prepare them for college,” the report found, they are still unlikely to meet these benchmarks.

“Compared to all students, African-American students are twice as likely to meet zero ACT College Readiness Benchmarks,” the report states.

From 2010-2014, English was the the most completed benchmark for African-American students, with 36% of students showing college readiness in the subject. By comparison, 19% of African-American students met the benchmark for reading, 15% for mathematics, and 11% for science.

Just 5% of African-American students hit all four benchmarks, and 62% achieved none.

Looking at students of all races over this period, 67% reached the benchmark for English, 47% for reading, 46% for mathematics, and 41% for science. The ACT report uses data from all students who take the test, including the 1.8 million students who took the ACT in 2014.

The ACT report offers several recommendations for schools to increase African-American students’ college readiness: “increasing the rigour of high school core courses; monitoring student performance beginning in the early grades; and making academic interventions with students who are off target as soon as possible.”

Check out the percentage of African-American students meeting the ACT subject benchmarks over five years in the chart below:

And here’s how the numbers compare to students of other races and ethnicities, looking at the percentage of students who reached three or more ACT benchmarks:

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