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Readiness Matters

Readiness Matters

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 ACT Research and Policy 
Research ReportsEducator ReportsPolicy ReportsIssue/Inormation Bries
www.act.org/research
Policy Report
February 2013
©2013 by ACT, Inc. All rights reserved. The ACT
®
is a registered trademark o ACT, Inc., in the U.S.A. and other countries. 19527
College readiness helps providestudents with early momentumtowards long-term college success.Helping more students becomeready or frst-year college coursesin at least one more subject areahas the potential to help our nationincrease the number o its studentswith a college degree and build amore highly-skilled and productiveworkorce.
Readiness Matters:
The Impact o College Readiness onCollege Persistence and Degree Completion
Key Findings
This report highlights the importance o college readiness or persistingin college to timely degree completion. Primary fndings suggest that:
•Beingbetterpreparedacademicallyforcollegeimprovesastudent’s
chances o completing a college degree.
•Usingmultiplemeasuresofcollegereadinessbetterinformsthe
likelihood o a student persisting and succeeding in college.
•Collegereadinessreducesgapsinpersistenceanddegreecompletion
among racial/ethnic and amily income groups.
•Earlymonitoringofreadinessisassociatedwithincreasedcollege
success.
IntermsofnumbersofACT-tested2012highschoolgraduates,theestimatedimpactofallstudentsbeingreadyforrst-year,credit-bearingcollegecoursesinonemoresubjectareainclude:•Nearly92,000
more 
ACT-testedhighschoolgraduateswouldimmediatelyenrollincollegethefallfollowinghighschool
graduation.
•OfACT-testedstudentsexpectedtoenrollinatwo-orfour-yearpostsecondaryinstitutionimmediatelyafterhighschool,about124,000
more 
studentswouldcompleteacollegedegreewithin
 
sixyearsofenrollingincollege.Havingmorestudentsimmediatelyenrollingincollegeafterhighschool,fewerstudentsrequiringremedialcoursework,andmore
students completing a college degree in a timely manner has the
potentialtohelpthenationmeetPresidentObama’s2020collegedegreecompletiongoalandbuildamorehighly-skilledand
 
productiveworkforce.
 
Policy Report
2
 
 Among ACT-tested 2012 high schoolgraduates, more than 80% aspire tocomplete a bachelor’s degree, andyet signifcant percentages o themare not ready or frst-year, credit-bearing college courses:
•33%forEnglishComposition•54%forCollegeAlgebra•48%forsocialsciencescourses•69%forBiology
1
 The ACT longitudinal assessment
systemincludesACTExplore
®
(taken
ingrade8or9),ACTPlan
®
(taken in
grade10),andtheACTTest(takeningrade11or12)thatmeasure
educational achievement in our
contentareas(English,mathematics,reading,andscience).Basedonextensiveresearchintowhatpostsecondaryeducatorsexpect
rom entering college students, eachassessment measures what studentsare able to do with what they havelearned in school. This study is based on a nationallyrepresentative random sample o 
~25,000ACT-testedhighschool
graduates who immediatelyenrolled in either a two- or our-year postsecondary institution aterhigh school and were tracked orseven years using National StudentClearinghouse data.
2
Introduction
Today,amajorityofhighschoolgraduatesaspiretoearnacollegedegree,andyetonly68%ofthemimmediatelyenrollinatwo-orfour-yearpostsecondaryinstitutionaftercompletinghighschool.
3
Evenamongstudentswhodoenrollincollegemanyofthemfailtocompleteadegree—onlyabout60%ofstudentsatfour-yearinstitutionscompleteabachelor’sdegreewithinsixyearsofinitiallyenrolling,anddegreecompletionratesattwo-yearinstitutionsareevenworse.
4
 
But,givenwhatweknowaboutthecurrentconditionofthecollegeandcareerreadinesslevelsofhighschoolgraduatesnationally,aretheselowdegreecompletionratesreallythatsurprising?Resultsfrom
standardized test scores that are aligned to college readiness standards
(suchastheACT
®
Test)assistinidentifyingthegapsthatexistbetweentheknowledgeandskillsstudentshaveacquiredinhighschoolandthosethatareneededtobesuccessfulincollege.
5
Many students do not
persistincollegetodegreecompletionbecausetheyareill-preparedforcollegeandrequireremedialcoursework.
6
Many students also lack the
academicbehaviorsandgoalsthatareneededtosucceedincollege.
7
States,districts,andschoolsarelookingforsolutionstohelpimprovethecollegeandcareerreadinessoftheirhighschoolgraduates.Forty-vestatesandtheDistrictofColumbiahaveformallyadoptedtheCommonCoreStateStandards.Somestates,districts,andschoolshaveimplementedadditionalcollegereadinessassessments,suchasthosethatcomprisetheACTlongitudinalassessmentsystem,tomonitorstudents’progresstowardsbecomingcollegeandcareerreadyandtoincreasetheirawarenessof,preparationfor,andaccesstohigher
education.
8
Many states are also adopting more rigorous graduation
requirements,aswellasend-of-courseexamstohelpensurecoursequality.
9
Statesanddistrictsarealsoworkingonactionstoimproveteacherpreparationandevaluation.
10
Inthisreport,weexaminetheimpactofcollegereadinessonstudents’
likelihood o persisting in college and completing a degree.
11
This issue
isexaminedfromthefollowingfourangles:1.Theeffectsthathighschoolacademicpreparationhasonstudents’chancesoflong-termcollegesuccess.2.Thebenetsofusingmultiplemeasuresofreadinesstoinformthe
likelihood o students persisting and succeeding in college.
3.Theextenttowhichcollegereadinessreducesgapsincollege
success rates among racial/ethnic and amily income groups.
4.Thepositiverolethatearlymonitoringofcollegeandcareerreadinessplaysinincreasingthelikelihoodthatstudentswill
 persist in college and complete a degree.
 
Policy Report
February 2013
3
 
ForeachadditionalBenchmark
that is met, students’ chances o completing a bachelor’s degree by
year6increaseby7to8percentage
points or students who initiallyenroll in a our-year institution
(referredtoasfour-yearstudents).
 A similar result holds or two-yearstudents’ chances o completing anassociate’s or bachelor’s degree by
year6.
1. Students who are better prepared academically for collegehave a greater chance of persisting in college and completinga degree.
 ACTdevelopeditsCollegeReadinessBenchmarkstohelpstudentsidentifyinwhichsubjectareastheyarereadyforcollegeandcareer.TheBenchmarksaretheminimumscoresontheACTthatrepresentthelevelofachievementrequiredforstudentstohaveahighprobabilityofsuccessinrst-year,credit-bearingcollegecourses—EnglishComposition,CollegeAlgebra,socialsciencescourses,andBiology.
12
StudentswhomeettheindividualACTBenchmarkshavehighercollegepersistenceanddegreecompletionratesthanthosewhodonotmeettheBenchmarks(byupto22percentagepoints),aftercontrollingfor
postsecondary institution attended. The largest dierences in success
ratesaregenerallyseenbetweenstudentsmeetingandthosenotmeetingtheBenchmarkinmathematicsorEnglish.
13
 
Moreover,asthenumberofACTBenchmarksmetincreases,students’
likelihood o persisting in college and completing a degree also
increases.Inparticular,studentswhoarereadyinallfoursubjectareashavesubstantiallyhighercollegepersistenceanddegreecompletionratesthanstudentswhoarenotreadyinanyofthesubjectareas.
Six-year degree completion rates by number of ACT Benchmarks met andinstitution type
Giventhataboutone-fourthoffour-yearstudentswhoarereadyinallfoursubjectareasarewithoutabachelor’sdegreesixyearslater,thereareclearlyotherstudentcharacteristicscontributingtostudents’success
in college.
442129
522335602642
682950753357
020406080100
Bachelor’s degree Associate’s degree Associate’s or bachelor’sdegree
Four-year students Two-year students
   P  e  r  c  e  n   t
0 1 2 3 4
Number of ACT Benchmarks met:

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