ACT Parent

Welcome to ACT Parent, a monthly newsletter designed to help you help your children succeed in middle school and high school as they prepare for college and careers.

We want to hear from you. Please contact us to suggest topic ideas or to offer feedback.

In this issue:

*Condition of College and Career Readiness

Students on campus.

Each year ACT releases a college readiness report. It’s designed to show students and schools what they are doing well and where they need to improve. Nearly 1.6 million—nearly half of all U.S. high school graduates—took the exam. For this class of 2010, ACT research showed that:

  • Just 24 percent of ACT-tested 2010 high school graduates met or surpassed all four of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks.
    These benchmarks are minimum scores needed on an ACT subject-area test to indicate a 50 percent chance of obtaining a “B” or higher or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a “C” or higher in corresponding credit-bearing college coursework.
  • The national average composite score this year was 21.0, down slightly from 21.1 in three of the past five years.
    The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score.
  • The percent of graduates ready to succeed in college coursework remains highest in English (66 percent).
    That percentage is followed by reading (52 percent), mathematics (43 percent) and science (29 percent).
  • More diverse populations are taking the ACT.
    Ethnic/racial minority students this year made up 29 percent of all ACT-tested graduates, up from 23 percent in 2006. The most remarkable growth was in the number of Hispanic graduates tested, which has nearly doubled (up by 84 percent) since 2006, from fewer than 86,000 to nearly 158,000 students.
  • The largest number of students—20 percent—plan to major in health sciences and allied health fields.
    Fourteen percent of students are undecided, 9 percent plan to study business and management and 6 percent wish to major in visual and performing arts. The remainder of career preferences includes everything from agriculture to zoology.
  • More states are utilizing ACT assessments.
    In the past five years, participation in the ACT in Michigan, Kentucky, Wyoming and Tennessee has risen to include virtually all graduates, rather than only college-bound students. These states joined Colorado and Illinois in offering the ACT to all public school 11th graders as part of statewide assessment programs. North Dakota began the same practice this past spring, and three other states—Arkansas, Texas and Utah—have been or will soon begin offering the ACT to all school districts at state expense.

*Organizational Strategies for School

As the parent of a middle school or high school student, you’ve probably heard one or more of the following early-morning shout-outs:

  • “I can’t find my homework.”
  • “I don’t have anything to wear.”
  • “Can you sign my permission slip?”
  • “I need lunch money!”
  • “I missed the bus. Can you drive me?”

After taking a deep breath, you rush to the rescue. But what if mornings and nights were well organized and calm, allowing your child to concentrate on what matters most: schoolwork. Well, it is possible. Try one or more of the following strategies so you and your student can begin and end the school day on a smooth note. Tell your child “I want you to . . .

  • keep a binder with dividers and pockets for each subject.
  • start homework as soon you get home.
  • turn off the television and other distractions while you’re doing homework.
  • put completed homework in your backpack, and have your backpack ready to grab as you go out the door.
  • bring me any school notes or forms by 8 p.m. each night.
  • keep a master calendar with all your assignments and activities.
  • set your alarm clock to wake up on time.
  • get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
  • tell me if you’re struggling in a subject or class.
  • set your clothes out the night before school.”

Depending on the level of chaos in your home, the previous suggestions may be easy or tough to implement. But as a parent, you can make a tangible difference in your child’s education—starting at home. The more structure you provide, the more time your child can devote to academic success.

*When Should My Teen Take the ACT?

Student writing at a desk.

Because the ACT is a curriculum-based test, we recommend that students test early in their junior year. Those test results should show which areas may need improvement and allow time for additional study. Students who test early still have time to retake the test in order to meet college application deadlines in their senior year.

We believe that every student should have the opportunity to go to college and have a successful career. By encouraging your student to take the ACT, you are taking a positive step toward college readiness.

ACT recommends making a “core” curriculum a priority for all students. The minimum core includes:

  • Four years of English
  • Three years of mathematics
  • Three years of science
  • Three years of social studies

Encourage your student to check out ACT’s Question of the Day, to download the free booklet Preparing for the ACT, or to practice test questions online.

*Welcome Back Senior Bloggers Chris and Lauren

You met them last year as juniors. Now New York’s Chris and Florida’s Lauren will blog about their senior year.

In their blog posts, the two students will write about relevant subjects that apply to all high school students.

Photo of Chris "I plan to blog through the transition into the college application process — preparations, stresses, surprises and all,” says Chris. Photo of Lauren “I hope that readers can relate to me and be inspired to achieve their full potential,” adds Lauren.

Together, they’ll document the ways they’re navigating through the college admissions process and their final year of high school. Beginning mid-September, you and your student can follow their stories at

*2010–2011 ACT Test Date Schedule

Test Date Registration Deadline (Late Fee Required)
October 23, 2010 September 17, 2010 September 18–October 1, 2010
December 11, 2010 November 5, 2010 November 6–19, 2010
February 12, 2011* January 7, 2011 January 8–21, 2011
April 9, 2011 March 4, 2011 March 5–18, 2011
June 11, 2011 May 6, 2011 May 7–20, 2011

* No test centers are scheduled in New York for the February test date.

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As always, we welcome your feedback. If you have questions or suggestions about future topics, please contact us at ACT Parent.

See also:

ACT's Information for Parents
Financial Aid
College Search

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