A stubborn racial gap continues to persist in scores on the The American College Testing Program’s ACT college admissions test, according to a recent report.
Increasingly, the ACT test is becoming more popular than the SATs among high school seniors looking to enter college. According to the most recent report, 1,924,436 students in the high school graduating class of 2015—nearly 60 percent—took the test, a 19 percent increase since 2011.
But success rates among African-American students who take the college admissions exam continue to lag behind that of their peers.
A total of 252,566 Black students took the ACT test in 2015, up from 233,383 in 2011, and scored an average composite score of 17.1 out of a possible 36. Each of the test’s four sections has a maximum score of 36 and the sum of all those scores is divided by 4 to arrive at the final, composite score.
That score among Black test takers was the lowest of all racial/ethnic groups, including Native Americans. The average composite score among White students was 22.4.
The statistics echo those in a report released by ACT and the United Negro College Fund in July. “The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2014: African American Students” showed that among African-American students of the 2014 graduating class who took the ACTs, 62 percent met none of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, which is twice the rate for all students (31 percent). In fact, Black students who took the recommended core curriculum (four years of English and three years each of math, science and social studies), had the lowest benchmark achievement rates of all students groups in all four areas:
In English, 36 percent of Black students met the ACT College Readiness Benchmark, compared to 67 percent for all students; in reading, 19 percent met the benchmark, compared to 47 percent for all students; in math, 15 percent met the benchmark, compared to 46 percent for all students; and in science, 11 percent met the benchmark, compared to an overall rate of 41 percent.
“To help African American students, we need to improve the quality of education they are receiving,” Jim Larimore, ACT chief officer for the advancement of underserved learners, said in a statement. “The report shows that even when they are doing what they are supposed to do—in terms of taking the recommended college preparatory curriculum and earning a high school diploma—too many lack sufficient preparation for first-year college courses. We clearly need to do more to ensure that students with the aspiration and will to go to college are prepared to succeed when they get there.”