US High School Graduating Class Trends

DATA BASED ON MORE THAN 18 MILLION STUDENTS

Using interactive data visualization tools to explore trends in ACT-tested graduating class performance relative to college and career readiness, including how students are performing compared to ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, STEM Benchmarks, and foundational work readiness skills, and quickly discern how specific student populations perform by core subjects and core curriculum taken.

US High School Graduating Class Data

ACT’s goal is to provide relevant data on college and career readiness so students, parents, educators, and other stakeholders can make informed decisions that will improve outcomes. We accomplish this goal by taking a holistic view and using consistent and reliable historical information so that individuals and institutions have better context to make critical decisions about the journey they have undertaken.

Since 1959, ACT has collected and reported data on students’ academic readiness for college, allowing us to measure academic performance over time and provide meaningful and compelling insights. We continue to lead the industry through our research and technology, constantly evolving along the way.

To enhance the usability of our data, we are developing new and interactive reporting tools. The data visualization tool presented below is intended to expand upon (or replace in some instances) our annual state and national ACT Profile and ACT Condition of College and Career Readiness reports. The tool, which contains data for ACT-tested high school graduating seniors from 2010 through 2019—more than 18 million students—will allow users to quickly view state and national trends across multiple dimensions and outcomes.

Data Visualization Tool

The interactive tool contains two views, or data visualization options, for exploring the data. Users can move between the views using the tabs provided at the top. The Class Composition/Makeup view shows distributional trends—percentages—of students falling into specific subgroups, which the user selects. The Class Averages and Benchmark Percents view provides a look at student achievement over time, by user-selected characteristics and subgroup populations.

Because interpretation of graduating class composition and achievement level is impacted by the percentage of graduates taking the ACT, a Percent Tested trendline is included for each view.

For information about accessing this tool using a keyboard, please see Tableau's help page for keyboard navigation.

 

Note: ACT recommends using caution before comparing dissimilar populations—for example, a state testing 100% of its graduating class would be expected to have a lower average Composite score than a state where only 50% of students (presumably those more likely to be going to college) have taken the ACT. Even trends over time can be impacted in this manner, as a state begins or ends “census” testing.

Interested in exploring additional datasets, such as:

  • Year-to-Year Average ACT Composite Score Changes
  • ACT Composite and ACT Superscore Score Distributions
  • Career Pathway Opportunities
  • Industry Sector Benchmarks and Wages
  • Enrollment, Retention, and Transfer Behaviors

The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2019

 

“Our findings once again indicate that taking core courses in high school dramatically increases a student’s likelihood for success after graduation. That’s why we need to ensure that all students of all backgrounds have access to rigorous courses and that we are supporting them not only academically, but socially and emotionally as well.”

– ACT CEO Marten Roorda

Recommendations

  • Ensure that all students take rigorous academic courses
  • Give educators resources to personalize instruction according to students’ individual needs
  • Assess student learning and implement improvement strategies throughout students’ education careers
  • Ensure that students’ education is holistic and addresses the needs of the “whole learner”

The Condition of Career Pathway Readiness 2019

What’s Important for Success in Future Jobs?

Navigating the landscape of career exploration can be daunting, especially for high school students or adult learners who know what skills they have, but may not know how those skills relate to various career paths. New research from ACT, The Condition of Career Pathway Readiness in the United States 2019, can aid career navigation for counselors, students, or individuals looking for a job change. The report uses data from WorkKeys testers and offers empirical benchmarks of career readiness for 16 different career clusters.

Using the Career Navigation Data

Use this report to help high school students and adults understand their career options based on their skills and determine the types of jobs available to them. 

Use this dashboard to navigate career opportunities, including future job openings and salary information, alongside the benchmarks for each of the top occupation openings.