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African-American Students Inadequately Prepared for College, Says Study

By guest blogger Alyssa Morones

Most African-American students aren't receiving the education they need to succeed in college, according to a new report.

Only 10 percent of African-Americans who graduated high school in 2013 met at least three of the ACT's four College Readiness Benchmarks, compared to 39 percent of all graduates who took the test. According to the study, released by ACT, the Iowa City, Iowa-based test-maker, students who meet these benchmarks are more likely to persist in college.

The research is reflected in the outcomes. After high school, 63 percent of African-American students who graduated in 2011 enrolled in postsecondary education immediately after high school. However, only 62 percent of those students who enrolled continued for a second year. Of all ACT-tested 2011 graduates, 73 percent persisted.

The classes a student takes in high school are also an indicator of their success in higher learning. The ACT's recommended core curriculum includes four years of English and three years each of mathematics, social studies, and science. Only 69 percent of ACT-tested African-American students took a core curriculum, compared to 74 percent of all students.

This core curriculum deficit for African-American students is not entirely attributable to individuals' choice of  classes. Recently released federal data revealed disparities in access to core classes. While 81 percent of Asian-American students and 71 percent of white students had access to a full range of math and sciences courses, only 57 percent of African American students had full access.

The rate of continuation to a second year in obtaining a postsecondary degree was found to be  71 percent, however, for  those African-American students who met at least two of the test's benchmarks. This is the same rate achieved by all ACT-tested graduates who met at least two benchmarks, suggesting that adequately preparing students for college can help reduce gaps in college-persistence rates.

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