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ACT Scores Fall Short Of What’s Needed For College Success

The testing company says only about a quarter of high school students are reaching benchmark scores that correlate with college success.

Indiana students scored slightly higher on the ACT than their peers across the country.

Photo: Newton Free Library (Flickr)

Indiana students scored slightly higher on the ACT than their peers across the country.

The company that administers the ACT to high school students says nearly a third of test-takers aren’t prepared for college-level coursework in at least one subject area.

“We figure out for each of the subject levels what the score is that corresponds with a 75-percent chance or better of getting a C or a 50-percent chance or better of getting a B in that college course,” says Steve Kappler, assistant vice president for college and career readiness at ACT.

But Kappler says too few students are meeting those benchmarks. Nationally, he estimates only about a quarter of ACT test takers achieve scores that indicate they’ll be successful in college.

The ACT tests math, reading comprehension, English language arts and science reasoning. About 38 percent of Indiana students take the test, compared to 54 percent nationally. But they score slightly better than their peers across the country.

“With a smaller testing population, you tend to see better students, those who are definitely college material in this cohort,” says Kappler.

Kappler says students struggle the most on the math and science sections of the test. He says it’s one of the reasons why Indiana and other states want to make STEM careers more attractive to high school students.

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