Policy Publications

Policy Reports


Changing Lives, Building a Workforce (PDF; 4MB, 16 pages)
This report uses ACT’s accumulated education and workforce data sets to examine workforce pipeline gaps that community colleges will need to address to (1) meet workforce development demands and (2) reach their full potential in preparing community college students for jobs and careers.

The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2012
Using ACT® test scores and the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, the Condition of College & Career Readiness reports provide national and state snapshots of the college and career readiness of the graduating seniors of the class of 2012 who took the ACT in high school.

Raising the Bar: A Baseline for College and Career Readiness in Our Nation’s High School Core Courses
This study examines the effectiveness of high school English, math, and science courses in preparing students for college and career.

Enrollment Management Trends Report 2012
A snapshot of the 2011 ACT-tested high school graduates

A First Look at Higher Performing High Schools
This report provides the results of a survey of educators at high schools across the country that have demonstrated strong progress towards college and career readiness.

The Core Practice Framework: A Guide to Sustained School Improvement
This report provides an overview of the Core Practice™ Framework, an evidence-based approach schools or districts can use to develop a long-term and systemic strategy for improving student performance.


A Better Measure of Skills Gaps
This report proposes a simple definition to describe the increasing mismatch between labor market supply and demand in America and sets forth detailed and specific measures to analyze skills gaps in four major industry sectors.

The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2011
Using ACT® test scores and the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, the Condition of College & Career Readiness reports provide national and state snapshots of the college and career readiness of the graduating seniors of the class of 2011 who took the ACT in high school.

Affirming the Goal: Is College and Career Readiness an Internationally Competitive Standard?
This report examines how performance standards in reading and math on PLAN® compare to performance on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a worldwide assessment of 15-year-old students' academic achievement.

Breaking New Ground: Building a National Workforce Skills Credentialing System
This report introduces the need and associated benefits for establishing a national workforce credentialing system, as we know of no other set of activities more important than getting a critical mass of state, national, and public and private workforce leaders to co-construct this foundational framework to address our national workforce challenges.

The 20 Non-Negotiable Characteristics of Higher Performing School Systems
Discover the 20 hard-hitting characteristics that make school systems successful at preparing students for college and careers.

More Policy Reports

Issue Briefs


Principles for Measuring Growth Towards College and Career Readiness (PDF; 397KB, 14 pages)
This paper develops five principles educators and policymakers should consider when designing assessment and accountability systems that use growth models for the purpose of improving the college and career readiness of high school graduates.

Rising to the Challenge of College and Career Readiness: A Framework for Effective Practices (PDF; 1.4MB, 16 pages)
This paper examines how district, schools, and classroom educators can implement the Core Practice Framework to help students master a content-rich curriculum and better prepare them for college and careers.

Staying on Target: The Importance of Monitoring Student Progress toward College and Career Readiness (PDF; 266KB, 12 pages)
This report supports the need for an integrated, longitudinal data-driven system to prepare all high school graduates for college and career.

Making Effective Use of ACT’s Longitudinal Assessment System (PDF; 740KB, 14 pages)
This report examines how middle and high schools are using ACT’s longitudinal assessment system for student and school improvement and provides recommendations for ramping up the quality of implementation and maximizing the benefits resulting from using the system.

Do Race/Ethnicity-based Student Achievement Gaps Grow Over Time? (PDF; 700KB, 10 pages)
This brief investigates race/ethnicity-based growth in achievement gaps for ACT-tested 2011 high school graduates.


Defining Credentials for the Public Workforce System (PDF; 88KB, 9 pages)
This paper outlines how the National Career Readiness Certificate meets the definition of "credential" as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration's Training and Employment Guidance Letter 15-10.

What Are ACT/NCEA College and Career Readiness Targets? (PDF; 887KB, 4 pages)
This report discusses ACT/NCEA College and Career Readiness Targets, indicators of a student's college and career readiness level for Grades 3–7. By linking to ACT's College Readiness Benchmarks, the Targets and Benchmarks define a path to College and Career Readiness throughout the Grade 3–12 experience.


What Are ACT's College Readiness Benchmarks? (PDF; 57KB, 3 pages)
ACT's College Readiness Benchmarks are the minimum ACT test scores required for students to have a high probability of success in credit-bearing college courses—English Composition, social sciences courses, Algebra, or Biology.

The Advanced Placement Program Benefits Mainly Well-Prepared Students Who Pass AP Exams
This brief, a summary of recent research by ACT's National Center for Educational Achievement, shows that having more students enrolled in AP courses does not necessarily mean more students having success in college.

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Case Studies

Case Study Series

These case studies are part of a larger study on effective practices and policies, conducted in 2007–2008.


“You Can Go to College”: Foster High School (PDF; 113KB, 14 pages)
This case study highlights the achievements and advancements made by Foster High School, a Texas school with a substantial enrollment of minority students, and the policies and practices that have contributed to these achievements.


Readiness and Success: Statewide Implementation of EXPLORE and PLAN (PDF; 107KB, 13 pages)
EXPLORE®, PLAN®, and the ACT® allow teachers, counselors, and students to track academic progress from eighth through twelfth grades on skills directly related to college preparation.

Statewide Administration of the ACT: A Key Component in Improving Student Access to College and Work (PDF; 107KB, 13 pages)
Statewide administration of the ACT provides all students, including those who have never considered college as an option, with the opportunity to identify academic strengths and weaknesses, explore educational and career interests, set high standards for academic achievement, and prepare to meet their educational and career goals.

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