Information Brief 2013-13

High School Graduation and Early High School Achievement

An earlier ACT study (Buddin, 2012) found a strong relationship between student achievement at the beginning of high school and subsequent high school graduation.

  • Students who received an ACT Explore Composite score of 15, which is the average Composite score, had a high school graduation rate of 76 percent.
  • 61 percent of students who received an ACT Explore score of 13 (25th percentile) graduated from high school.
  • 86 percent of students who received an ACT Explore score of 18 (75th percentile) graduated from high school.
  • 34 percent of students whose ACT Explore score was 10 or less eventually graduated from high school.
  • The graduation rate for students who scored a 24 or greater on ACT Explore was 90 percent.

High School Graduation by ACT Explore Achievement

ACT Explore ScoreHigh School Graduation Rate
10 or less34%
1142%
1251%
1360%
1469%
1576%
1680%
1783%
1885%
1986%
2087%
2189%
2289%
2389%
24 or more90%

Note: Students in the study took ACT Explore in 8th or 9th grade during the 2004–05 or 2005–06 school years and were expected to graduate from high school in 2009.


Buddin, R. (2012). Implications of educational attainment trends for labor market outcomes (ACT Research Report No. 2012-7). Iowa City, IA: ACT, Inc.


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