1:42pm

Wed August 17, 2011
The Two-Way

Tests Show 1 In 4 U.S. Students Set For College; Wide Gap For Minorities

Only 1 in 4 U.S. high school graduates who took the 2011 ACT college entrance exam scored high enough to be deemed ready for college-level courses in all four of the test's subject areas, according to the company that designs the tests.

The college-readiness rating of 25 percent represents a trend of improvement since 2007, when only 23 percent of students met all four benchmarks.

Breaking down the results by topic, the ACT organization says that for 2011, 66 percent of the tested students met its benchmark for English; 52 percent for reading; 45 percent for mathematics; and 30 percent for science.

Those numbers represent slight gains in math and science, and a slight drop in English, since 2007.

If you're curious about how students in your state did on the ACT, a document listing average test scores (overall and by topic) has been posted online, both as a comparison chart and as an interactive map.

The ACT company also found a wide range of scores when analyzing by race or ethnicity.

Asian Americans performed the best by that measure, with 41 percent meeting the college benchmarks for all four subject areas. White students had similarly high scores in English and reading, but weaknesses in science and math dropped the number of white students who met requirements for all four topics to 31 percent.

Only 4 percent of black students met the college readiness standards for English, math, reading and science, compared to 11 percent of Hispanics who did so.

"None of the Benchmarks were met by at least 50 percent of African American, American Indian, or Hispanic students," according to the report.

"Of the 29 states where at least 40 percent of all 2011 high school graduates took the ACT," according to the report, "in only 1 state did more than half of the graduates meet at least three of the four College Readiness Benchmarks."

That state was Minnesota, with between 50 and 55 percent of 2011 graduates meeting the requirements in at least three topics.

The ACT benchmarks are based on students having at least a 50 percent chance of getting a grade of "B" or better in a corresponding college course, or at least a 75 percent chance of getting a "C" grade.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.