The number of California students taking the ACT inched up in 2014 and their scores continue to top the national average, yet only about a third of students scored well enough to be considered ready for college-level work.
California’s class of 2014 posted an average score of 22.3 on the ACT, compared with a national average of 21 out of a possible 36, according to numbers released Wednesday. The state average was 22.2 in 2013 and was 22.1 in 2012.
Thirty-four percent of students scored well enough on all four sections of the test – math, English, science and reading – to be considered college ready.
That bested the national average of 26 percent and was an increase over 2013, when 33 percent of the state’s test takers met the college-ready benchmarks. The number of students scoring college-ready has grown slightly since 2011, when 30 percent of California students hit the benchmarks.
In setting its college readiness benchmark, ACT sets a minimum score students must achieve on each of the four subject area tests to have a 75 percent chance of earning a C or better, or a 50 percent change of earning a B or better, in a credit-bearing beginning college course.
Racial disparities remain. While 70 percent of white students and 65 percent of Asian students scored high enough on three or more subject tests to be considered college ready, only 21 percent of African-American and 26 percent of Latino students met that benchmark.
The SAT college entrance exam has historically been more popular in California than the rival ACT exam, but growing numbers of students are now taking the ACT, the numbers show. An estimated 29 percent of California’s class of 2014 (about 114,000 students) took the ACT, compared with 26 percent in 2013.