Policy Reports


A First Look at the Common Core and College and Career Readiness
Provides a research-based estimate of current student performance relative to the Common Core State Standards.

Mind the Gaps: How College Readiness Narrows Achievement Gaps in College Success
This report looks at the steps that can be taken to improve college and career readiness and success among underserved populations. As a nation we must close the achievement gap across racial/ethnic and family income groups. The data in this report shows the types of policies that work to improve college and career readiness and success.

The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2010
Using ACT test scores and the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, the Condition of College & Career Readiness reports provide national and state snapshots of college readiness of the graduating seniors of the class of 2010 who took the ACT in high school.


The Condition of College Readiness 2009
This report provides a series of graphical pictures highlighting the college readiness of the ACT-tested high school class of 2009. It seeks to answer this question: How college ready are the ACT-tested 2009 high school graduates?

The NCEA Core Practice Framework: An Organizing Guide to Sustained School Improvement (PDF; 20 pages, 471KB)
This paper discusses how educational leaders and policymakers can use research on higher performing schools to promote a big-picture approach to educational improvement.

Core Practices in Math and Science: An Investigation of Consistently Higher Performing School Systems in Five States (PDF; 76 pages, 840KB)
Using the Core Practice™ Framework to probe into the areas of mathematics and science in five states, this report develops a rich picture of effective educational programs, school systems, and structures that enable exceptional student achievement in these subjects.


EPAS® State of the Nation Report 2007: Mathematics
This report examines results in mathematics for the ACT Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPAS) in schools nationwide. The report addresses changes in the performance of eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders in mathematics since 2003.

The Forgotten Middle: Ensuring that All Students Are on Target for College and Career Readiness before High School
ACT research shows eighth-grade students' academic achievement has a larger impact on their readiness for college by the end of high school than anything that happens academically in today's high schools.

NGA/ACT Pilot Project: Increasing Course Rigor
To improve the consistency and rigor of high school instruction, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) partnered with ACT, Inc. on a pilot project in three states: Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania.


State of College Readiness for Latino Students (PDF; 60 pages, 424KB)
This report examines college readiness among Latino students and finds more Latino high school graduates are college ready, attending college, and re-enrolling for a second year.

Rigor at Risk
Even students who take the recommended college preparatory curriculum in high school are often ill-prepared to handle college material.

Using EXPLORE® and PLAN® Data to Evaluate GEAR UP Programs (PDF; 655KB, 44 pages)
In this report, we compare changes in academic readiness and college intent for a sample of students from GEAR UP schools to a comparable sample from non-GEAR UP schools.


Reading Between the Lines
This policy report concludes that too many American high school students are graduating without the reading skills they'll need to succeed in college and in workforce training programs.

Ready for College and Ready for Work: Same or Different?
ACT research suggests that the math and reading skills needed to be ready for success in workforce training programs are comparable to those needed for success in the first year of college.


Courses Count: Preparing Students for Postsecondary Success (PDF; 3124KB, 33 pages)
This policy report explores the question, "Why aren't our students ready to succeed in postsecondary programs without remedial help when they leave high school?"

On Course for Success
High schools that provide all students with high-level courses, qualified teachers, flexible teaching styles, and extra tutorial support are more successful in preparing their students for college and work.

College Readiness Begins in Middle School (PDF; 487KB, 33 pages)
Middle school and high school are important times for early postsecondary planning, and many educational organizations and the U.S. Department of Education recommend that students begin planning for college as early as sixth grade.


What Works in Student Retention?
These reports highlight information on successful practices in college student retention based on ACT's national survey that included more than 1,000 colleges.

Crisis at the Core
Even with a diploma in hand, many high school graduates do not have all of the skills to succeed in college-level coursework or workforce training.

The Role of Academic and Non-Academic Factors in Improving College Retention (PDF; 615KB, 41 pages,)
A report about the influence of non-academic factors on student retention and performance at four-year colleges and universities. It highlights successful retention strategies and contains recommendations to help administrators and policymakers consider both academic and non-academic factors in the design and implementation of retention efforts.

Schools Involving Parents in Early Postsecondary Planning (PDF; 576KB, 36 pages)
This report describes programs, practices, and initiatives that schools use to effectively deliver educational planning information to parents, including ways that schools involve parents in their children's planning and decision making.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Technology in Our Schools (PDF; 570KB, 32 pages)
This policy report provides a view of the issues concerning the effectiveness of technology in its role to enhance education.


Maintaining a Strong Engineering Workforce (PDF; 649KB, 57 pages)
The issues addressed by this policy report focus on the national need to continually attract and develop a well-prepared and diverse engineering workforce.


School Relationships Foster Success for African American Students (PDF; 504KB, 29 pages)
This policy study shows the strengths and weaknesses of African American students' school relationships, and how these relationships can affect students' educational outcomes.

The Promise of Baldrige for K-12 Education (PDF; 646KB, 38 pages)
This report examines the information available on improving school quality through implementation of the Baldrige criteria.

Creating Seamless Educational Transitions for Urban African American and Hispanic Students (PDF; 898KB, 55 pages)
This study examines the influences on postsecondary planning that these students have encountered and how such influences have helped them develop and implement their plans for postsecondary education.