To truly prepare for college-level work, high school students need to take four years of English, one or more upper-level math courses beyond Algebra 2, and a lineup of science classes that includes biology, chemistry, and physics, concludes a report from ACT, Inc. the Iowa City, Iowa-based test-maker that administers the nation’s second most widely used college-entrance exam.
The policy report, “Courses Count: Preparing Student for Postsecondary Success,” is available from ACT, Inc.
Yet only about 35 percent of students who take the ACT follow such a coursetaking pattern, the organization found. Moreover, ACT-takers have shown little improvement in such patterns over the past five years.
The study also found that certain high school classes benefit students across disciplines in college. Those who take at least one foreign-language class in high school, for instance, increase their chances of success in college English-composition courses; and enrolling in upper-level math courses in high school can lead to success in college science classes, according to the report.