College & Workforce Readiness

American Indians Lag Other Graduates in College Readiness, ACT Says

By Lesli A. Maxwell — March 12, 2014 1 min read
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More than half of the American Indian high school graduates in 2013 who took the ACT college-entrance exam did not meet any of four benchmarks that the test-makers say signal likely success in credit-bearing first-year college courses.

That compares to 31 percent of all high school graduates who took the test and met none of the performance benchmarks, according to a new analysis from ACT.

Of all the student groups, American Indian graduates who took the exam completed ACT’s recommended core curriculum at the lowest rate—at 62 percent. On average, 74 percent of all students tested last year completed the core curriculum, which ACT defines as four years of English and three years each of math, social studies, and science.

Enrollment in some postsecondary program among American Indian graduates is also the lowest of any student group that took the ACT, even though a vast majority reported aspirations to attend college.

The ACT report used data from roughly 14,000 high school graduates who identified themselves as being of American Indian race/ethnicity on their ACT exams.

This analysis is in keeping with most of the academic outcomes we see for American Indian students, who lag on almost every major indicator of schooling success. American Indian children face some of the longest odds for completing high school and enrolling in college: They are more likely to be poor, more likely to live in isolated, underresourced communities, and more likely to die young than their peers in other racial and ethnic groups.

Education Week documented some of those challenges, as well as opportunities, in two very different Native American communities last year.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.