Most Wisconsin High School Graduates Not Prepared for College
Minority Students Lag Significantly
Only 31% of Wisconsin’s 2012 high school graduates are prepared to succeed in four common courses taken by college freshman, according to ACT, the Iowa testing firm. Minorities fared worse, with only 3% of African-Americans and 13% of Hispanics college-ready in the four courses. A new report by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX), “College and career readiness need work,” reviews ACT’s evaluation of student performance in 2012. Celebrating its 80th year, WISTAX is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to public policy research and citizen education.
ACT surveys high school and college educators nationwide to pinpoint needed knowledge and skills. The results were used to identify minimum ACT scores needed to ensure a 50% chance of a B or better or a 75% chance of a C or better in first-year college courses. Students taking the ACT are tested in English, math, reading, and science.
Overall, 75% of Wisconsin students reached the readiness threshold in English, 59% in reading (linked to introductory college social science), 54% in math, and 38% in science. Compared to 2008, English and reading were both down two percentage points, while math and science percentages remained unchanged. Slightly more than a third of Wisconsin students met none or one of the benchmarks.
African-Americans struggled to meet readiness thresholds in math and science, with only 9% in math (vs. 61% for whites) and 5% in science (vs. 44% for whites). Hispanics tested better than African-Americans but still trailed whites (30% met threshold in math and 17% in science).
High school courses help explain some of the test score differences. The percentage of Wisconsin graduates with ACT’s recommended core of needed courses is 75% (vs. 76% nationally). White students (78%) lead both blacks (56%) and Hispanics (68%) in this respect.
The Focus newsletter “College and career readiness need work” is available at www.wistax.org or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org; calling 608.241.9789; or writing WISTAX at 401 North Lawn Ave., Madison, WI 53704-5033