How It's Working

Issues in college and career readiness with high school students across America have led a number of states to raise the expectations of high school graduates by incorporating a college readiness, admissions, and placement program into their high school student assessment programs. Not only can this help to prepare all students for college and career, but the assessment itself has intrinsic value to the students who take it—something that is not true of student assessments in general.

In Colorado and Illinois

Since 2001, two states, Colorado and Illinois, have administered the ACT® to all public high school juniors.

As a result of statewide administration, both states have experienced improvements in the following areas:

  • Student academic achievement
  • Student readiness for college
  • The number of students considering college
  • College enrollment and retention

In addition, statewide administration of the ACT can offer the following benefits:

  • Improved workforce planning and career counseling information
  • Economic benefits to students and states

In Arkansas, Oklahoma, and West Virginia

Arkansas, Oklahoma, and West Virginia have used EXPLORE® and PLAN®, two components of the longitudinal-assessment program within ACT's College Readiness System, on a state-funded voluntary basis in their public schools for more than ten years.

The results reveal that after statewide implementation of EXPLORE and PLAN:

  • ACT and PLAN Composite and subject-area scores increased.
  • More high school students took core curriculum courses.
  • More underrepresented minority students took the ACT.
  • More students became college and career ready.
  • In states for which data were available, college freshman remediation rates declined and the percentage who obtained GPAs of 3.0 or higher and re-enrolled for a second year increased.
  • Participating states are estimated to have saved over $1,000 in foregone expenses for each additional college-ready student (who no longer required postsecondary remedial coursework).

The long-term impact and benefits are outlined in the full report.

In Louisiana

Faced with declining enrollments at the state's postsecondary institutions, the Louisiana Board of Regents began offering EXPLORE and PLAN as part of a statewide effort to raise academic standards for college admission. The program has since expanded to include every public high school and middle school in the state.

As a result:

  • Student performance is improving.
  • College readiness has increased.
  • More students are planning to enter some form of postsecondary education.

In the Chicago Public Schools

Beginning in 2002, the Chicago Public School System instituted citywide administrations of EXPLORE and PLAN to help all Chicago public school students start thinking and planning for higher education and to prepare them for statewide administration of the Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE).

As a result:

  • The number of Chicago students taking the ACT test has continued to grow each year, representing opportunity for more students.
  • Student performance on the PSAE and the ACT is improving.
  • Most students are planning to continue their education after high school.
  • More students took the right number of core courses in 2004 compared to 2002.