Recently Released ACT Data Highlights Urgency of Increasing College and Career Readiness Rates

Author: Michelle Boehm, Research & Evaluation Analyst

September 22, 2016

The ACT college entrance exam is a critical indicator of whether high school students are prepared to succeed in postsecondary work.  It not only provides individualized information about college and career readiness by subject, it also presents students with an opportunity to consider career aspirations, evaluate postsecondary opportunities, and determine eligibility for need-based financial aid.

As part of its College Knowing & Going Initiative, Helios Education Foundation has invested in ACT testing and preparation for over 100,000 students in Arizona over the last eight years, increasing from eight participating districts in 2009 to 18 in 2016. In addition to providing the exam itself this initiative is designed to support students with postsecondary planning, and completing college applications and the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid.  Currently, less than half of Arizona students fill out the FAFSA which is a vital step toward pursuing and completing a postsecondary degree. This $5.1 million initiative is expected to impact more than 145,000 students over the next five years.

This spring more than 25,000 juniors took the ACT as part of this initiative. Based upon the results of that test administration the percent of juniors meeting college readiness benchmarks were as follows:

These results make it clear that while many Arizona students do well on the exam the vast majority of our high school juniors are not adequately prepared for the academic rigors of college. In fact, only 25% of White students and 6% of Latino students are college ready.  We have significant work to do.

“These data demand that we take immediate action to improve college readiness rates for all students while simultaneously closing the Latino achievement gap.  As the largest demographic group in our K-12 system, we know that the future economic health of our state is undeniably linked to our ability to better prepare Latinos for postsecondary success,” said Vince Yanez, Vice President of Arizona Student Success Initiatives for Helios. 

Helios is committed to doing its part to increase college readiness and access among all Arizona students, especially minority students who have been traditionally underserved. Through initiatives like College Knowing & Going, the Foundation hopes to move closer to its vision of closing the Latino achievement and attainment gap and preparing every individual in Arizona for success in postsecondary education and career. 

Participating school districts include:

Flowing Wells
Lake Havasu
Round Valley

*Testing Fall 2016

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