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The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2019

Report: Student College Readiness Declines, Except for Students in Core Courses

Student College Readiness Declines, Except for Students in Core Courses

ACT® test score data among 2019 graduates show a general decline in college readiness among students, especially in math and English, unless those students took the recommended core curriculum. Those are the findings of ACT’s annual Condition of College and Career Readiness report.

Nearly 1.8 million graduates, or 52 percent of the 2019 national graduating class, took the ACT test. The percentage of those students meeting the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks hit a 15-year low. However, students who took core courses (four years of English and three years of math, science, and social studies) have shown steady achievements over the last five years even as national averages declined.

The 2019 report includes recommendations for educators to help ensure college and career readiness among students, focusing on:


  • Academic rigor—Ensure that all students take rigorous academic courses.
  • Personalized learning—Give educators resources to personalize instruction according to students’ individual needs. Learn more about ACT Academy.
  • Continuous improvement—Assess student learning and implement improvement strategies throughout students' educational careers.
  • Holistic education—Ensure that students' education is holistic and addresses the needs of the "whole learner," particularly in essential social and emotional learning skills. Learn more about the ACT Holistic Framework.

Blog: Rigor and Readiness Still Matter

Marten Roorda blog article

The findings of the 2019 Condition of College and Career Readiness report pose a challenge to educators but also offer solutions. Marten Roorda, ACT’s CEO, says the findings offer an underlying message.

"Rigorous courses matter," Roorda says. "A strong curriculum, taught well by teachers and tackled with enthusiasm by students, results in young people being better prepared for college and career."

The report quotes Roorda's predecessor and ACT founder E.F. Lindquist, whose vision for the ACT test served as its foundation—an assessment that reinforces what students are being taught in the classroom. Lindquist felt the test results should inform education policy. “Not only teachers, school administrators; and school board members, but pupils and parents; and the general public as well should, through these services, be better prepared to make the many educational decisions that are required of them."

Webcast for Counselors: How to Use Data from the ACT High School Report

This on-demand webcast provides an overview of the ACT High School Report, demonstrating how counselors can use the data to discuss student academic achievement and help students plan for life after high school. Attendees will receive resources and support materials to guide conversations with students.

New Fee Waiver Eligibility Requirements for 2019–2020

Everyone has the potential to learn. A student’s family income should not determine his or her educational or career opportunities.

During the 2019–2020 school year, ACT will again offer the ACT test fee waiver program to eligible students. ACT encourages schools and agencies to emphasize to students the importance of taking the test. Since funds are limited, when students do not follow through to test, they not only miss a valuable opportunity, but could prevent other students from testing.

New ACT Test Options for Students

Blog: What You Should Know About Upcoming ACT Test Options

Suzana Delanghe blog article

ACT recently announced several student-focused enhancements coming to the ACT test starting with the September 2020 test date. These options were based on feedback from counselors, students, parents, teachers, administrators, and higher education professionals:

  • ACT Section Retesting—Students can retake individual ACT section tests (English, reading, math, science, and/or writing)
  • Online testing with faster results—Students can choose online or paper testing, the latter of which gets them scores as early as two business days later
  • ACT superscore—Students who took the ACT more than once will get a superscore on their report

Suzana Delanghe, ACT’s Chief Commercial Officer, says stakeholders should know that these updates are all about ACT's commitment "to opening every door possible to help today’s students succeed and leveling the playing field for all."

In Case You Missed It:

Webinar on New ACT Options

Learn from ACT experts as they explain the new options, why ACT is offering them, and how these options give students more choices, a better experience, and greater confidence that their ACT test scores reflect their overall academic achievement and potential.

ACT College and Career Readiness Workshop Webinars: Last Chance to Sign Up!

Did you miss the ACT College and Career Readiness Workshop in your region? No worries! ACT will present live webinars in November and December that present the same information as the in-person events!

At each webinar, you can:

  • Realize new ways to look at data to assist you and your students
  • Explore the different options available for ACT test preparation and college and workforce readiness
  • Discover new and updated tools to support students from K–career and across core academic skills, behavioral skills, career navigation, and cross-cutting capabilities with the ACT system of solutions and resources
  • Learn what it means for you that ACT is transitioning from an assessment company to a learning, measurement, and navigation organization

Benefits of Requesting a Test Information Release (TIR)

Students who take the December ACT can order a Test Information Release (TIR) to get a list of their answers, a copy of the multiple-choice test questions, and the answer key. Don’t let your students miss the opportunity to review their test and learn from mistakes. TIR is only available for students who take the ACT on national test dates in December, April, and June.

"As a former high school counselor, I was always looking for ways to help students prepare for ACT assessments. I would often encourage my students to take the ACT in December, so they could take advantage of the Test Information Release (TIR) reporting option. From my point of view, TIR is an inexpensive ACT prep activity that students can use to prepare for subsequent ACT tests. Plus, students still receive a reportable ACT score from the ACT assessment."


- George Schlott, former high school counselor

AACC Leader: Lifelong Learning is Critical to Lifelong Success

Dr. Walter Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and an ACT Board member, recently reflected on the multiple pathways students can take to find success, and how ACT’s transformation will enable more students to learn, grow, and bloom in their field.

His recent contribution to the ACT Leadership Blog includes his insights on the benefits of attending community college, how colleges are responding to the threat of automation displacing workers, and why the future of learning is lifelong learning.

Good News for PreACT Customers using Naviance

Naviance, a popular college and career readiness software provider that partners with high schools and other K–12 institutions to provide students with college planning and career assessment tools, is now able to support PreACT scores with a new feature release.

This release now allows Naviance users who are PreACT customers:

  • Manual entry/viewing of PreACT scores within the scores tab of the student folder in Succeed
  • Manual entry/viewing of PreACT scores within the test scores page in Naviance Student
  • School-level data imports
  • District-level data imports
  • School- and District-level data exports
  • Updates to the student data, test ranges, and test averages by ethnicity and gender reports to include PreACT data

Helpful Tips to Share with Your Students

Remind Students About the December ACT® Test

There is still time for your students to sign up for the ACT on Saturday, December 14! Students can avoid late fees when they register by Friday, November 8.

Why should your students take the ACT in December? Find out.

Student Tip: Learn More, Earn More

Government research shows that salaries rise considerably with a college degree—and the higher the degree, the higher the salary. Compare average weekly earnings by level of education to help your students better understand the degree they need to make the money they want. Learn more!