ACT Scores Deliver Good and Bad News

By Catherine Gewertz — August 18, 2010 1 min read
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It’s a sure sign that summer’s almost over when the ACT score report comes out, and it’s out today. My story tries to hit the highlights for you.

Basically it comes down to this:

• No huge increase in overall scores over the last five years;

• No big decreases in the scores over the last five years even as the testing pool grows larger and more diverse;

• A depressingly small, but growing, portion of American teenagers meet the ACT’s definition of college-ready;

• Black and Hispanic students need far more from our education system than they’re getting.

As is often the case with ACT and SAT score reports, it’s Tevye’s famous speech from “Fiddler On the Roof” all over again: On the one hand, it’s encouraging that more minority students are taking the test. It bodes well for more of our underserved kids thinking about college, preparing for it with good coursework, and getting the results in their hands that give them a shot at the next step. On the other hand, the numbers show that black and Hispanic students have a painfully long way to go before they are getting the school experience necessary to catapult them into college with a fighting chance.

If you need any further evidence of the length of road still to be traveled, brace yourself and check out a recent report on the graduation rates of black males. It’s not like we haven’t known this. Of course we have. It’s just another sobering reminder.

As the bumper sticker says: If you’re not angry, you haven’t been paying attention.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.