Research

ACT administered ACT Engage® to thousands of students and tracked progress as they moved through middle school and into high school. Results showed that even after taking into account academic readiness (e.g., ACT Explore® scores), ACT Engage provided additional information that helped more accurately identify students who were at risk of poor grades and academic failure. Below we compare several prediction models using "hit rates." The hit rates indicate how well each model can identify students who are at high risk of future academic struggles.

Percentage of Students Accurately Identified as Having 9th-grade GPA < 2.0

Selection Method Hit Rate (%)
Random Selection 24
ACT Explore Composite Only 69
ACT Engage Grades 6–9 Only 80
ACT Explore Composite + ACT Engage Grades 6–9 83

Note. The hit rate is the percentage of students, among the bottom 5% on the flagging variables, who had grade 9 GPA less than 2.0.

As shown, use of ACT Explore or ACT Engage Grades 6–9 scores results in substantial increases in accuracy (i.e., increased hit rate) over random selection for identifying students who subsequently earned a low GPA during 9th grade. The combination of ACT Explore and ACT Engage scores resulted in the highest level of accuracy.

The figure below illustrates that, although standardized measures of academic achievement and middle school grades are the best predictors of early high school GPA, academic behaviors measured by ACT Engage (i.e., psychosocial factors and behavioral indicators) are also important predictors.

Note: Based on a linear regression model predicting 9th-grade GPA (R2 = .55).


The research cited below identifies ACT publications that are relevant to ACT Engage.

ACT, Inc. (2007) Impact of Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Career Factors on Educational and Workplace Success. Iowa City, IA: Author

How we educate and train our youth to be successful students and workers is one of the most critical questions of our time. We cannot compete globally without a high percentage of our citizens succeeding in education and in the workplace. Career-interest exploration is critical as early as middle school; thus, it is important to understand how psychosocial information can help identify which students are at risk for academic difficulties during the transition into high school and through preparation for postsecondary studies. Psychosocial factors also help target key areas for student intervention to raise grades and, eventually, scores on standardized achievement tests, both of which are indicators of college readiness.    Learn more...

ACT, Inc. (2008) The Forgotten Middle: Ensuring that all Students Are on Target for College and Career Readiness before High School. Iowa City, IA: Author

ACT research shows eighth-grade students' academic achievement has a larger impact on their readiness for college by the end of high school than anything that happens academically in today's high schools. Student readiness is also influenced by their psychosocial development; students' academic readiness for college and career can be improved when students develop behaviors in the upper elementary grades and in middle school that are known to contribute to successful academic performance.    Learn more...

ACT, Inc. (2011). Enhancing College and Career Readiness and Success: The Role of Academic Behaviors. Iowa City, IA: Author.

One of the biggest challenges in raising achievement and reducing dropout is early identification of those students who would most benefit from intervention. While assessments of academic achievement provide early indication of risk, academic behaviors are also important for persistence and success. This information brief examines the importance of academic behavior for college and career readiness and success, as shown in ACT research. It also discusses implications of this research for K–12 educators and ways that teachers, schools, districts, and states can use this information to enhance students’ college and career readiness.    Learn more...