ACT reports Blacks still falling behind

Data indicates that many are ill-prepared to enter college

Ashley Montgomery | 9/5/2013, 9 a.m.
In the eyes of your child’s teacher, your child may be ready for college and all that comes with it, ...

In the eyes of your child’s teacher, your child may be ready for college and all that comes with it, but according to the ACT yearly report only 5 percent of Black students are. In fact the report shows that one-third of this year’s high school graduates who took the ACT test are not prepared for college-level writing, biology, algebra or social science classes. 

But how much weight should be placed on these and other standardized exams?

Steve Kappler, assistant vice president, Career & College Readiness says, “no doubt that the teachers are a critical link to students success, but these assessments are also important.”

The report is released each year and Kappler says the results have been “pretty similar year-to-year.”  

Looking forward to change

The data released is a clear indication that The Common Core State Standards, which the ACT helped developed raises the bar and is challenging our youth. The ACT asserts that it serves as a gauge for the curriculum that teachers teach. Miami-Dade County Public Schools [M-DCPS] Administrative Director of Public Relations John Schuster says their role is to provide all races and ethnicities with legitimate college preparation.

“We want parents to know that the College Board [a non-profit organization who promotes excellence and equity in education through programs for K–12 and higher education institutions] recognized M-DCPS’ success in preparing students to succeed in Advanced Placement [AP] courses,” Schuster said. “Miami-Dade was seventh in the country in Black AP exam scores of 3 or above.” 

But Schuster admitted that scores may decline even further as more students take the test.

“The District’s statisticians have advised us that as we provide expanded opportunities for more students to take the ACT, it can be expected that scores may experience a slight decrease,” he said.

Data from the ACT report indicates that this is the most diverse group of test takers.

Closing the achievement gap

The achievement gap has been a constant struggle for minority and low-income students. But Kappler believes that despite poor performance by minority students over the past five years, that the achievement gap is shrinking. The data, he says, will ensure that the right courses are being taken.

“Black students are taking the ACT now more than ever — that alone is an achievement in itself,” he said. “The performance of the District Black and Hispanic students stand out when compared to those in similar districts across the state and nation.”