The Holistic Framework

Planning for Future Success Starts Now

What is the ACT® HolisticFramework™? 

Shifts in education and the workplace are changing how we must think about college and career readiness in America.


To help people navigate these shifts from kindergarten to career (K–Career), ACT has created a holistic framework for understanding education and work readiness, navigating life’s transition points, and achieving success.

Learn more about the four, key domains that emphasize a broad range of skills and encourage a more expansivevision of the outcomes that help to define student success.

  • Core academic skills that are mapped to learning progressions from K-career  
  • Cross-cutting capabilities, such as critical thinking, collaborative problem solving, and information and technology skills
  • Behavioral skills related to success in education and the workforce
  • Education and career navigation skills related to exploration, planning, and decision making

Applying the ACT Holistic Framework to College and Career Readiness: From Research to Action

Almost two years ago, the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) welcomed Career & College Clubs into its portfolio of programs. The journey since, expanding the program’s content and sharpening its impact, would have been more difficult–and less successful–without the ACT Holistic Framework and partnership with the ACT research team.

"What Career & College Clubs had been doing in a piecemeal, almost serendipitous way, ACT had codified and systematized in the Holistic Framework. The Holistic Framework’s acknowledgement that academic readiness alone is not sufficient preparation for college and career success strongly resonated with Career and College Clubs’ on-the-ground experience. The work between NCCEP and ACT has been a true partnership. With the Holistic Framework, NCCEP has built a more effective curriculum informed by ACT’s research and expertise, and ACT will be able to measure the effects of the Holistic Framework using a robust dataset. Most importantly, thousands of students will receive the support they need to pursue their goals and aspirations."

Betty Paugh Ortiz, VP of Programs, NCCEP

Betty Paugh Ortiz

Building Upon Well-Defined Foundations

Core Academic Skills

A holistic model of education and workplace success must be anchored in core academic content areas.  While these skills are necessary for success, they do not account for the full range of knowledge and skills that one needs for success.

Learn more about ACT solutions that you can leverage toward Core Academic Skills:

Enhancing Education and Career Success

Cross-Cutting Capabilities

The nature of work is evolving. Individuals must now possess cross-cutting capabilities—including information and technology, teamwork, and critical thinking—to enhance learning and application in most, if not all, disciplines and careers.

Learn more about ACT solutions that you can leverage toward improving Cross-Cutting Capabilities:

Measuring Behavior to Predict Success

Behavioral Skills

While not readily identified on tests or resumes, behavioral skills play an important role in predicting future success. Understanding a student’s behavior can help educators determine potential problems and intervene to help students succeed.

Learn more about ACT solutions that you can leverage toward improving Behavioral Skills:

Progressing Through the Education and Career Journey

Education and Career Navigation

Personal journeys through education and career pathways are often filled with challenges and obstacles, making progress difficult and compromise frequent. 

Successful navigation of education and career paths include taking the right high school courses, selecting a college that best meets an individual's needs, exploring and choosing majors, deciding on and pursuing a specific occupation, or changing occupations during a work career. 

Learn more about ACT solutions that you can leverage toward improving Education and Career Navigation:


Additional Resources

Building on research over the last 50 years, ACT has created a holistic framework that can provide a more complete description of the knowledge and skills individuals need to know and be able to do to succeed at school and work. The framework is organized into four broad domains: Core Academic Skills; Cross-Cutting Capabilities, Behavioral Skills, and Education and Career Navigation Skills

General Resources

Behavioral Skills

Education and Career Navigation

Also of Interest

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