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We now have the 2015 results for the ACT, the widely-known test of college readiness. With interactive charts posted below, you can explore how well your local public school system or high school is doing preparing students for college.

This is the first set of results in which all Alabama high school students took the ACT.  In the past, only students who were college bound took the ACT. Now, all high school students take the test in their junior year, and the results reflect the percentage of students who graduated from high school ready to succeed in college-level courses as measured by the ACT.

Because the universe of students taking the test has widened to include all students, this year’s results for the state and for schools should not be compared to previous years or to national averages.

The ACT is one of several measures the state and local schools use to determine whether their graduates are ready for college and career.

In addition to succeeding on the ACT, a student can be classified college or career ready if he or she:

  1.  Scored at either the silver, gold or platinum level on WorkKeys, a test that measures workplace skills
  2.  Earned a passing score (3 or above) on an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exam
  3.  Received an industry-recognized credential recognized in the appropriate business sector
  4.  Earned college credit through dual-enrollment at a two-year college or university.
  5.  Successfully enlisted in the U.S. military.

Statewide, the Alabama’s high school graduation rate climbed to 89 percent in 2015. The state Department of Education reported in January that 68 percent of graduates had met one of those definitions of career/college readiness.

On the ACT, the state counts a graduate as college ready if he or she scores at or above the college-ready benchmark in one of four subjects on the ACT: English, reading, math, or science. According to ACT, if a student meets or beats the college-ready benchmark in a subject that student has a 50 percent chance of making a B or better in a college-level course in that subject and a 75 percent chance of making a C or better.

Statewide, 52 percent of students scored college ready in English; 33 percent in reading; 22 percent in math; 24 percent in science. Only 15 percent of students statewide scored met or exceeded all four college-ready benchmarks.

This year’s ACT results follow a similar pattern to results on the Aspire, the standardized tests given to children in grades 3-8. In systems with lower rates of poverty, a higher percentage of students meet or exceed the college-ready benchmark. In systems with higher poverty percentage, a lower percentage of students score at or above the benchmark.

In systems with lower rates of poverty, a higher percentage of students meet or exceed the college-ready benchmark. In systems with higher poverty percentage, a lower percentage of students score at or above the benchmark. While it is important to keep poverty rates in mind when judging schools and systems, a school’s demographics don’t dictate results. Judging by the results, some schools are more effective at preparing students for college.

That is especially noticeable at the school level. The school with the highest rate of graduates testing college ready on all subjects is Montgomery County’s Loveless Academic Magnet Program (LAMP) High School. In general, magnet schools like LAMP, which draw the most academically advanced students and which offer the widest selection of college-level courses, tend to produce higher percentages of college-ready students.

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