The Edmond Sun
Success in college and career is at risk for at least 60 percent of likely college-bound 2012 U.S. high school graduates, according to nonprofit ACT’s newly released report, The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2012.
The report focuses on the scores earned by graduating seniors who took the ACT college and career readiness exam — a record 52 percent of the U.S. graduating class.
Outcomes of the report include:
• 60 percent of 2012 high school graduates are at risk of not succeeding in college or career;
• Readiness in math and science is improving slightly; and
• Early monitoring of students and intervention is necessary for students’ success.
While more Oklahoma students than ever, 29,342, took the ACT this year, the state’s average composite score of 20.7 remains flatlined when compared with previous years’ scores, according to results released Wednesday.
When ACT scores were announced, Edmond North High school posted a 24.2 schoolwide composite — the school’s highest score ever.
Memorial High School had a composite score of 23.5 and Santa Fe High School’s composite was 22.6.
“Although not a comprehensive measure of students’ abilities, the ACT does provide a good basis for benchmarking academic standing across school districts and nationally,” said Edmond Superintendent David Goin in a report to Board of Education members. “The EPS district composite is 23.5.”
Neighboring Deer Creek High School’s composite score was a 23.4 and Oklahoma Christian School had a 24.
“Deer Creek students who graduated in 2012 have achieved an all-time high composite score of 23.4,” said Cindy Koss, chief academic officer for the district. “This is well above the state and national averages of 20.7 and 21.1, respectively.”
The report shows that only 20 percent of students in Oklahoma met all four ACT College Readiness Benchmark Scores set by ACT.
In Oklahoma 80 percent of the 2012 graduates were tested and the highest number, 67 percent, met the English benchmark with a score of 20.4, 53 percent met the reading benchmark with a score of 20.1, 37 percent met the math benchmark with a score of 21.3, and 26 met the science benchmark with a score of 20.6.
Focus needed on science and math
State Superintendent Janet Barresi on Wednesday said she sees some areas of slight improvement, but scores in areas such as science and math must improve if each student in the state is going to graduate prepared for college and career and to be able to compete nationally and internationally.
“I’m especially concerned with areas such as algebra and biology,” Barresi said. “This is where we need to focus on curriculum and rigor. Students in Oklahoma aren’t going to be competing for jobs just against the kid down the street or in the state next door, but against students in other parts of our country and the rest of the world.”
The ACT data point to a disconnect between the types of careers that graduates are interested in pursuing and the types of jobs likely to be available to them. The percentage of ACT-tested graduates interested in careers in the five fastest growing fields according to the U.S. Department of Labor — education, computer/information specialties, community services, management and marketing/sales — was less than the projected demand for workers in each case.
Barresi said that just as last year she is concerned that many Oklahoma students interested in high-growth fields fall short of meeting ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks, again in the areas of math and science.
ACT’s analysis showed that of 2012 ACT-tested high school graduates interested in health care, only 20 percent met the college readiness benchmark for math and only 11 percent met the benchmark for science. Of those indicating an interest in health care, only 37 percent met benchmarks for reading.
“These results show we’re not preparing these students to succeed in their chosen career fields,” Barresi said. “We want to take an active approach of visiting with school counselors, parents and students to make sure students are taking the right courses in high school. We need to get more students into science, technology, engineering and math courses and push for them to take four years of these core subjects.”
Early monitoring, appropriate interventions mean student success
Outcomes of the ACT research continue to show the importance of early monitoring of student achievement, systematic guidance, feedback and appropriate interventions. In the recent research report Staying on Target (ACT 2012), it states students who are monitored early are more likely to meet three or all four of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks than students who are not monitored early, regardless of gender, race or annual family income.
The research report suggests that being on target for college and career readiness by eighth grade puts students on a trajectory for success in high school and beyond.
“The 2012 ACT Condition Report is a reminder as to why we’re making sweeping changes in state standards, among other reforms, and that we need to move even more swiftly,” said Council of Chief State School Officers Executive Director Gene Wilhoit in a recent press release.
The full national report and each state ACT report can be viewed and downloaded for free on ACT’s website at the following URL: www.act.org/