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ACT Report Indicates Asian Students are Highest-Performing Group

May 2 2014

Asian high school graduates in the United States outperformed all other groups in meeting college readiness benchmarks for English, reading, mathematics and science in 2013, according to a report released today by ACT.

The report, The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2013: Asian Students, shows that 58 percent of 2013 Asian high school graduates in the U.S. met at least three of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, compared to 39 percent of all ACT-tested 2013 graduates. Similarly, only 18 percent of Asian students met no benchmarks, compared to 31 percent of all tested students.

The research-based ACT College Readiness Benchmarks specify the minimum scores students must earn on each of ACT’s four subject tests (English, mathematics, reading, and science) to have about a 75 percent chance of earning a grade of C or higher in a typical credit-bearing first-year college course in the corresponding subject area. ACT research suggests that students who meet the Benchmarks are more likely than those who do not to persist in college and earn a degree.

Some highlights from the report:

  • Eighty-one percent of Asian students completed the ACT-recommended core curriculum, compared to 74 percent of all tested students. ACT defines a core curriculum as four years of English and three years each of mathematics, social studies and science. ACT research has consistently found that students who take the recommended core curriculum are more likely to be ready for college than those who do not take this curriculum.
  • Approximately 85 percent of Asian students aspire to earn some sort of postsecondary degree, and more than half (53 percent) of Asian students report they aspire to earn a graduate/professional degree.
  • Postsecondary enrollment and persistence rates among Asian students are also quite high:
    • 78 percent immediately enroll in postsecondary education after high school
    • 85 percent who complete their first year of postsecondary education persist into a second year.

“The overall results are very encouraging, and we hope all groups of students can reach similar levels of attainment in the near future,” said Scott Montgomery, ACT vice president of policy, advocacy, and government relations. “But it is equally important to note that there is a wide range of achievement rates among Asian students and a need to provide appropriate resources and interventions to those who are not performing at higher levels academically.”

Later in May, ACT will release a separate report on the college and career readiness and achievement levels of Pacific Islander students. Prior to 2013, ACT had included these students in the overall Asian group.

The ACT report uses data from approximately 1.8 million ACT-tested high school graduates, 71,677 of which identified themselves as being of Asian race/ethnicity. During ACT registration, students are asked to provide information about race/ethnicity, high school course-taking, and postsecondary aspirations.

The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2013: Asian Students can be viewed and downloaded for free at http://www.act.org/newsroom/data/2013/states/asian.html.