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Nine in 10 black students missed ‘college-prepared benchmark’ in ACT scores this year

As the percentage of graduating students who take the ACT college entrance exam goes up, their collective performance is going down.

Only 38 percent hit the “college-prepared benchmark” on at least three of the four core subject tests, down from 40 percent last year. The tests are reading, English, math and science. The composite score of all four tests dropped just two-tenths of a point.

But these overall results don’t tell the deep divides in performance by race, the Associated Press reports:

Forty-nine percent of white test-takers met the three-or-more benchmark, compared with 11 percent of African-Americans and 23 percent of Hispanic test-takers. But the gaps between the groups haven’t shifted that much, for better or worse, in the past four years.

Just as “alarming,” says ACT’s Paul Weeks, is that 1 in 3 students didn’t meet any benchmark this year, meaning they are “likely to struggle with first-year courses and end up in remedial classes that will delay degree completion and increase college costs.”

Also of note: Fewer ACT test-takers want to go to traditional college.

In the past four years, the proportion of students saying they would like to pursue vocational/technical and two-year degrees increased by 2 percent. The proportion aspiring to higher levels of education dropped by 6 percent.

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