ACT Holistic Framework Press Kit

About the ACT Holistic Framework

The ACT® Holistic Framework™ presents the knowledge and skills individuals need to know and be able to do to succeed at school and at work. Building on nearly 60 years of research, the framework provides a holistic and integrated picture of education and work readiness from kindergarten to career. It is organized in four domains: core academic skills, cross-cutting capabilities, behavioral skills, and education and career navigation skills.


The framework offers a multi-dimensional and integrated picture of education and work readiness from elementary school to career, taking into account academic skills as well as social and emotional learning skills.

It is organized in four domains: core academic skills, cross-cutting capabilities, behavioral skills, and education and career navigation skills.

The framework offers highly personalized outcomes: it can be used to structure learning and development opportunities to help all individuals develop the skills necessary for college and career.

  • Educators and employers can use this framework to identify development opportunities for students and employees, and connect them to helpful resources.
  • Students and employees can use this framework as a guide to track their journey toward becoming college and career ready.


Four Component Domains

Core Academic Skills

Knowledge and skills necessary to perform essential tasks in the core academic content areas of English language arts, mathematics, and science.

  • English Language Arts: Literacy skills related to comprehension and capacity for use of written and oral language.
  • Mathematics: Relating and transforming numeric and symbolic quantities, including applications to data sets, patterns, space, and change.
  • Science: Gathering and interpreting observations, experimental data, and disciplinary content knowledge in order to predict and explain phenomena.

Cross Cutting Capabilities

General knowledge and skills necessary to perform essential tasks across academic content areas.

  • Collaborative Problem Solving: Social and cognitive knowledge, skills, and strategies to collaborate with a group to solve a problem.
  • Learning Skills: Strategies and methods to effectively facilitate and manage learning.
  • Technology and Information Literacy: Using technology knowledge and skills to effectively acquire and apply information.
  • Thinking Skills: Employing modes of thinking that apply to a broad range of contexts.

Behavioral Skills

Interpersonal, self-regulatory, and task-related behaviors important for adaptation to and successful performance in education and
workplace settings.

  • Acting Honestly: Describes the extent to which a person values and adheres to ethical and moral standards of behavior, as well as personal level of humility.
  • Getting Along with Others: Describes the extent to which a person interacts positively and cooperates with others, and is generally kind, friendly, and tactful.
  • Keeping an Open Mind: Describes a person’s level of open-mindedness and curiosity about a variety of ideas, beliefs, people, and experiences.
  • Maintaining Composure: Describes the extent to which a person is relatively calm, serene, and able to manage emotions effectively.
  • Socializing with Others: Describes a person’s preferred level of social interaction, behavior in interpersonal situations, and optimism.
  • Sustaining Effort: Describes a person’s level of diligence, effort organization, self-control, and compliance with rules.

Education & Career Navigation Skills

Personal characteristics, processes, and knowledge that influence individuals as they navigate their educational and
career paths.

  • Self-Knowledge: Perceptions of one’s own abilities, interests, skills, values, etc. that contribute to understanding the self.
  • Environmental Factors: Information, conditions, and experiences related to education and work acquired from external sources and surroundings.
  • Integration: Ongoing process of combining self-knowledge and environmental factors to form personally-relevant knowledge to evaluate information and plan courses of action.
  • Managing Career & Education Actions: Ongoing process of implementing plans and enacting purposeful behaviors to facilitate education and occupation progress.

Next Steps: Sharing the Framework

The Holistic Framework is designed to help identify and organize the knowledge, skills and other factors needed to make informed, personally relevant decisions and build actionable, achievable plans for education and workplace readiness.

  • Preparation for college, career or life requires skills and competencies from multiple domains. Academic skills alone are not sufficient to ensure success.
  • Cross-cutting capabilities play a role in learning, self-direction and a positive pre-disposition to life-long learning.
  • Education and career navigation skills are important for successful progression from school or college to career.

Learn more about the Holistic Framework by visiting:

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