Students were assigned to one of four STEM cohorts: Expressed and Measured, Expressed Only, Measured
Only, or No STEM Interest. These cohorts were based on the pairing of Expressed and Measured STEM
interest types, where:
Students with expressed STEM interest planned on a STEM major or occupation following high school.
Students with measured STEM interest had a highest ACT Interest Inventory score in Science or had a
highest ACT Interest Inventory score in Technology and a second-highest score in Science.
Within each STEM cohort, students were also assigned to one of four STEM areas: Science, Computer
Science and Mathematics, Medical and Health, or Engineering and Technology. STEM areas for students in
the Expressed and Measured Interest cohort and the Expressed Interest Only cohort were based on the
STEM area of students’ planned major. If planned major was not STEM, then the STEM area of their planned
occupation was used. For students in the Measured Interest Only cohort, STEM area was based on a
crosswalk between ACT Interest Inventory score profile and planned major. The crosswalk was created from
a national sample of undergraduate students with a declared major and a grade point average of at least 2.0.
(More information about the crosswalk) By
definition, students in the No STEM Interest cohort could not be assigned a STEM area.
The ACT College Readiness Benchmarks are scores on the ACT subject area tests that represent the level
of achievement required for students to have a 50% chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75%
chance of obtaining a C or higher in corresponding credit-bearing first-year college courses. Based on a
nationally stratified sample, the Benchmarks are median course placement values for these institutions and
represent a typical set of expectations. The ACT College Readiness Benchmarks are:
Subject Area Test
When individuals register for the ACT, they are asked to choose a college major they plan to enter as well as
an occupational choice from a list of 294 major and occupational titles. Of these 294 titles, 93 have been
identified as STEM related. Assignment of ACT titles to STEM titles was conducted by an expert panel of
ACT staff members with knowledge of labor market trends and postsecondary academic programs. Panel
decisions were informed by three sources of information: (1) STEM-designated occupations from the US
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), (2) STEM-designated degree programs from US Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE), and (3) ACT Interest Inventory score profiles for students planning to enter the major/occupation. ACT titles were assigned to STEM when both the corresponding BLS and ICE titles were
included in STEM or when the corresponding BLS title was included in STEM and the profile of measured
interests of students planning to enter this occupation peaked on the Science and Technology scale. These
two guidelines accounted for 89 of the 93 ACT titles assigned to STEM. The remaining four titles were
assigned to STEM based on the judged intensiveness of their math and science coursework (major) or work
tasks (occupation). ACT titles in the Social Sciences were excluded from this STEM list because many STEM
taxonomies do not include majors and occupations in this field.
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