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ACT Targets Underserved High Schoolers With New Center for Equity and Learning

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Guest blog by Carmen Constantinescu

 ACT Inc. today announced the launch of a new research and advocacy center focused on addressing educational equity issues such as expanding access to college for underserved learners and closing achievement gaps among students of different racial, ethnic, and income groups.

The ACT Center for Equity and Learning, to be located in Iowa City, Iowa,  brings together ACT's Office for the Advancement of Underserved Learners, the ACT Foundation, and outside partners such as the American Council on Education's American College Application Campaign, Civic Nation, and Univision, the Spanish-language broadcast network.

More than half (59 percent)  of the 2015 high school graduating class took the ACT for their college and career readiness test,  and "31 percent didn't meet any of the college and career benchmarks in English, reading, math, and science," said Marten Roorda, the chief executive officer of ACT.  

Research also "shows that students from high-income families are oftentimes eight times more likely to earn their bachelor's degrees by the age of 24 than low-income students," said Michelle Asha Cooper, the president of the Institute of Higher Education Policy, another one of the center's partners, who added that "better equity will require structural changes."

The ACT Center for Equity and Learning plans on working with its partners to scale up the American College Application Campaign, which is a national effort to increase the numbers of low-income and first-generation college students pursuing higher education. The center also plans to foster relationships through states and state organizations and networks of high schools and middle schools around the country for pushing information out about the its research and available resources.

With Univision, the center has plans to target Hispanic students by increasing awareness and support for college-going students among Hispanic communities. A national report on the condition of college and career readiness for Hispanic students is scheduled for release next week.

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