Monday, December 10, 2012

Who's college ready?

What does it mean to be college ready?

Here's a quiz that uses profiles of real students. Can you tell which one is college ready? (To read the chart: Amy’s ACT English score was 32; her math score was 19; her reading score was 35; her science score was 28; and her ACT Composite was 29.)

So which one was college ready?

ACT explains the college ready score in the following manner:
Empirically derived, ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks are the minimum scores needed on the ACT subject area tests to indicate a 50% chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75% chance of obtaining a C or higher in corresponding credit-bearing first-year college courses. 

Most of us understand the composite score on the ACT.

As you can see these nine students have a variety of composite scores:

ACT Composite
Amy  29
Bob 30
Cal 22
Deb 22
Eve 30
Fay 29
Gus  24
Hal  26
Jan 29

One might guess that those who are college ready are the students with highest composite score.

That guess would be wrong!

There are two students who are college ready in this list. They are Call and Deb. The students with the lowest overall ranking are the two students that ACT would say are "college ready."

Bob and Eve with composite scores of 30 are not considered "college ready" in all four subjects because they did not score at one of the ACT cut scores. Bob did not meet the cut score in math and Eve did not meet the score in science.

The students with the lowest ACT composite scores are, according to ACT, the most "college ready" of the group.


Because they hit the magic thresholds.

  ACT English   ACT Math   ACT Reading   ACT Science   ACT Composite
ACT Scale Score Cut Score to be considered college ready 18   22   21   24   Not used
National Percentile Rank 37   63   53   80    
Michigan Average 18.3   19.3   19.4   19.7   19.3
Class of 2010 National Average 20.5   21   21.3   20.9   21
Class of 2010 MI Average 18.9   19.7   19.7   19.9   19.7

This chart shows the magic numbers according to ACT. On the English sub-test of ACT in order to have a 50% chance of earning a "B" or better or a 75% chance of earning a "C" or better in the freshmen level English class, ACT's research says you need a minimum score of 18. That score of 18 is at the 37th percentile. Said another way, 73% of the students who take the ACT hit the college ready score in English.

You can also see that in science a student needs to earn a 24. That score of 24 is at the 80th percentile. Only 20 percent of the students in the United States who take the ACT hit the college ready score in science.

This all leads to another question: Does a student have to be college ready in all four subjects to be successful in college?

The answer is no.

We could use this data to hammer our teachers and say that they are not preparing our students to be successful in college. But that would be wrong!

Or we could look at this data and use it for its intended purpose - continued dialogue about what our teachers are doing right and what our teachers can do to get better.

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