Large Gaps in Black College Readiness Persist

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More African American students met key benchmarks in educational testing for college readiness in 2015, but their progress still lags significantly behind their peers, a new report reveals.

The report, The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2015: African American Students, was released by ACT and United Negro College Fund (UNCF). It showed that over the past five years, the number of African American high school graduates taking the ACT test increased by 13 percent (more than 250,000 students) in 2015.

Despite their progress toward meeting ACT college readiness benchmarks in at least three of the four core subject areas, the students still lag behind the 40 percent national average.

“We’re taking small steps in the right direction each year, but much more work remains to ensure that African American students receive the rigorous instruction that prepares them for the demands of college,” said Michael L. Lomax, Ph.D., UNCF president and CEO. “This is a glimpse into the potential and power of widening opportunities for all students—as America is quickly becoming majority minority, we’ll need more African American students adequately prepared with the knowledge, skills and college degrees to serve as leaders in the global economy.”

Researchers found that over the past five years, the percentage of Black students meeting the science readiness benchmark increased significantly, from 6 to 12 percent. There was a plateau in math, with the readiness benchmark remaining flat since 2011, at 14 percent.

Over the same time period, the percentage of Black students meeting the English readiness benchmark fell from 35 to 34 percent.

To improve college readiness for African American students, UNCF is expanding its K-12 advocacy work in key U.S. cities and has partnered with several organizations to release a parent checklist—a toolkit of key questions that parents should ask their child’s school.

Click here for the full report.