While academic readiness is important, it is not the sole factor at play in college success, suggests a report from ACT Inc.
The study finds that about 19 percent of 2011 high school graduates who took the ACT and were considered college-ready in at least three of the four subject areas tested never enrolled or didn’t return for a second year of college.
“We need to pay attention to multiple dimensions of readiness in helping students achieve their educational goals,” Steve Kappler, who heads postsecondary strategy for ACT, said in a statement from the Iowa City, Iowa-based testing organization.
Of the wider pool of all 2011 graduates who took the ACT, 43 percent were not enrolled in college or their status was not known by last fall.
The report also highlights the diverse choices being made by all students pursuing higher education. Statistics show that nearly 30 percent of college undergraduates delayed enrollment for a year, 38 percent attend part time, and 30 percent are taking courses online. Plus, many are moving from one institution to another. Twenty-nine percent of community college students, for instance, transferred to four-year colleges.
Just over 40 percent of college graduates received credits from more than one institution.
ACT reports that despite significant efforts to increase student success, college-retention rates in recent years have remained virtually unchanged. Re-enrollment rates of 2011 ACT-tested high school graduates at private four-year colleges are higher than rates for those students at two-year colleges and public four-year colleges.
The report makes several recommendations on how policymakers can improve college-retention rates, including promoting P-20 collaborations to develop integrated education systems, measuring and rewarding individual student success, and revising policies that keep the movement of students from one educational experience to another from being visible.
A version of this article appeared in the June 12, 2013 edition of Education Week as Report: For Many Students, ‘College-Ready’ Isn’t Enough