New ACT Test Results Show Very Few Black Students Are Prepared for College

act-thumbThe American College Testing Program recently released the results for 2014 high school graduating seniors who took the ACT college entrance examination. The ACT test is graded on a scale of 1 to 36. The average score for Black students who took the test was 17.0. For Whites, the average score was 22.3. The average scores and the significant racial gap in test scores have remained relatively constant over the past decade with only minor fluctuations.

The largest racial gap was on the English portion of the test. On that section the average score for Black students was 15.8. For Whites the average score was 22.0. The was also a large racial gap in the optional writing section of the ACT test with Blacks achieving an average score of 16.4, compared to the average score of 23.1 for Whites.

Only 34 percent of Black students who took the ACT test were deemed ready for college-level English courses. This is less than half the rate for White students who took the ACT. Only 14 percent of Black ACT test takers were deemed college ready in mathematics compared to 52 percent of White ACT test takers. One in 10 Black students who took the ACT were considered ready for college-level courses in science. For Whites, 46 percent were rated college-ready in science. One in 20 Black students were rated college-ready in all four areas: English, reading, mathematics and science. Whites were nearly seven times as likely as Blacks to be college ready in all four areas.

It must be noted that this data is only for those Black students who took the ACT college entrance examination and thus were considering enrolling in college. Presumably, these students are among the highest performers among the 2014 class of graduating seniors. It seems clear that public school systems in the United States are, for whatever reasons, doing a very poor job of educating the vast majority of the Black students who are enrolled in these schools.

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  1. As long as schools are segregated and the schools serving black students are inferior in resources, credentialed teachers, etc. those students will operate at a disadvantage. It is not surprising that they have trouble catching up to white students who had everything available to them. Black students have a better chance of being placed in special ed as opposed to gifted & talented programs. They receive harsher punishments in school often resulting in suspensions or are referred to legal authorities starting the pipeline to prisons. Their schools often neglect teaching subjects like algebra II in preparation for SATs. Lower income students have a vocabulary that is inferior to kids from upper class families who probably have college educated parents. There are a million obstacles that account for the disparities and it’s getting worse.

    • “There are a million obstacles that account for the disparities and it’s getting worse.” Yes, AND one where a change can make a significant difference is more parent involvement in our Black children’s education. Our children’s first teachers are typically their parents, and parent involvement early and often throughout a child’s education has a tremendous impact on how well they do, and on their atitude toward achieving in education. Parent involvement can also help reverse many of the disparities that exist, which you do a great job of pointing out in your reply. My point is while there are indeed many obstacles that account for the disparities which come from the outside environment, let’s make sure we are also dealing with a primary internal issue that can truly be tranformative.

    • All of these things are outcomes that stem from the collapse of family and black culture. Black kids are disciplined because they are not behaving. Blacks are placed in special education because their cognitive abilities are not being nurtured at a young age.

      It’s a mess.

      • Garbage culture leads to garbage ACT scores. Spend some time with your kids. Talk to them. Read to them. As long as you tell yourselves it’s not your fault you’ll keep failing.

    • The points you mentioned all accurate but do carry some substance. School choice is a must at this point in time. School choice with full vouchers where a parent can put their child in an environment where they feel will produce what they are looking for in education and skill attainment for their children. For black children this is needed.

    • I went to a top rated public school and there was a small portion of black students attending. Regardless, they did not score near as well as the white students in an amazing public school.

    • My school was in the (now infamous) Ferguson-Florissant school district. about 25% of our kids were African-American and bussed in, yet the test scores were around the national average. Now, that area is 85% minority (white flight) and of course I’m sure you’d call me a racist for getting the heck out of there.
      We left my sister’s senior year when a black student killed a white student in the bathroom.

    • There is hope and I am not pessimistic about the Capacity of African Students to do well in College Examinations.

      The culture of Black People must allow Science and Technology to be part of the Culture to enable our Scientists to discover better methods of achievement.

      However Prep Materials must be allowed and Parents must encourage their Kids to do well in School.

      The lack of great facilities is also a factor in Urban and Rural Schools in West Africa and the rest of the African Continent.

      High School Preparation must enable us to Succeeed beyond the colleges within our Nations.

      The solution is there but how to implement itis the issue.

  2. The two most consistent factors influencing achievement among Black students are poverty and family.
    One also has to be cognizant of the on-going systemic structural racial barriers that contribute to poor schooling, housing discrimination and the lack of true employment opportunities.
    Our young Black students cannot tackle the deep seeded systemic barriers that may impede their learning in any environment so it is incumbent upon parents and adults to “Take The Bull By The Horns” to sufficiently address the above stats by all and every means necessary.
    Education begins in the home and it starts from birth to adulthood. Although I am a strong proponent of Early Childhood Education in an environment that is conducive to learning that should not absolve struggling parents from their responsibility and duty as parents to begin the process of educating their children.
    Reading and comprehension is fundamental to successful educational outcomes for all students from K to Higher Education. School Districts should establish on going adult learning centers for the expressed purpose of teaching parents how to read and comprehend what they are reading so that they may be able to read to their children at a very early age. Parents must demand adult educational learning centers from the school districts that they pay taxes.
    We started 250 years behind in the race for full citizenship coupled with over 100 years of legalized Jim Crow as a standard in a broader system of white supremacy. So how can you expect that there would not be gross disparities on achievement tests in comparison to dominate culture students?
    Therefore is it fair to compare our students achievement on any tests with dominate culture students who have had lights years of a head start coupled with the obvious advantages that come with white skin privilege?
    Yes its true that we have many Black men and women who have been able to navigate successfully in a sweltering sea of white supremacy within the various dominate culture institutions.
    Wherein we must begin the process of restoring the lost Black pride that was dismantled during the Middle Passage and become the captains of our own ships and place a higher premium on the value of education and less of a emphasis on sports and entertainment.

    The vast majority or bulk of the teachers teaching our children in the US Public Educational system are white female teachers and I repeat that is a major problem which needs to be addressed in comprehensive and thorough manner by all concerned.
    So as long as white female teachers are teaching our children that will remain an acute deep seeded problem.
    Malcolm X said “Quit Begging.” We must learn how to control our own institutions which includes the local schools boards and said school districts to have more successful educational outcomes as we moved forth in the 21st Century.

  3. It saddens me to continue to see such poor results from african american children. However, its not childrens faults that the adults around them did not provide the resources( quality schools, teachers, extra support, etc.) for them to achieve better success. Children follow the lead of the adults in their lives, and thus are a product of those adults. I agree parents should be more involved in their childrens education. I always told my children when they were very young, Im the person most responsible for your education, then you, and then your teachers. As they moved into middle school, they became most responsible, then me, and again, their teachers are 3rd in line. The reason being is the teachers are no longer involved in their lives after they leave the class or school. I will always be apart of my children’s lives so it is very important to me that they have a quality education. However, I work in low income communities and i know many of the adults in those communities even know what a quality education is. They lack a quality education. You have teenage parents that dropped out of school, how can they go about making sure their children are getting what they need. We have to be honest about our community and know, that many, not all, dont really care about education because they dont know what the purpose is. After elementary/middle school many of these parents no longer care about their childrens education. I have heard several adults in these communities say they dont want their children to go to college. They dont think college is for black people. What will be the future of a child who is raised by a parent with this mind set? I can tell you. I know of one young lady in particualr I met when she was 15 years old and a fresmen in HS. She wanted to go to college and become a lawyer. Her mom insisted no child of her’s was going to college and that her daughter was going to hustle when finished school. In fact her mother wanted her to drop out after she turned 16. Now the young lady is 19, pregnant and living on the streets. She was not successful in hustling and her mother put her out. I bring up this situation because we have many in our coummunities, especially in low income communities that do not value education because of their own lack of education. These children become adults deemed lazy and told by polititians that they dont care about themseleves. Saying that these parents need to be more involved in their childrens education is not enough, because they dont know what that means, why, what is the purpose, and how do they do it?. We need to do something drastic and quick. I think its unfair to black children to continue to say they dont test as well as their white counterparts are not as smart as their white counterparts when they are not provided the equivelent education and resources as their white counterparts

  4. New laws need to be passed to end zip code education for non-white minority students. Our students must understand that if college is the post high school option then students, first generation, and parents need to start 365/24/7 prep school at home. Teachers can ONLY do so much because many of them are not there for the students, but rather a check to pay off student debt. Overcrowding, gangs, dysfunctional families, generational poverty, and institutional racism are all patterns to lead our students from school to prison pipeline. Instead of these fraternities and sororities hazing our students we need to build more ONLINE PREP COLLEGES for minority students. When I research a problem it’s always a bad high school that only caters to STATE EXAMS which the teachers forge scores so they will not lose their jobs, thus when the students graduate receiving their useless diplomas they will take longer than 6 years to graduate.

    We must cut our minority students some slack because white universities have protected and nurtured their students. Google search PWI universities and you will be amazed how they supported HATE GROUPS like the KKK. Graduating from college is not the only barrier, but finding employment to payback student loans is critical because we have an influx of minority college graduates unemployed graduating with honors only to find themselves “labeled” boomerang kids returning home in debt or no job.

    We need to train minority students to become entrepreneurs not goto college charge up $60000 to become debt slaves for useless majors. Dr. Claude Anderson and Dr. Umar Johnson has been very vocal about this problem with lectures online talking about this problem

  5. Everyone makes very good points however I also feel that part of this issue lies within the immorality that has given way to complexities in our community and for one is single parenting, I think this has a great effect on our African American children and it has brought about stress and the lack of stable behavior. The men and women in the community are not taking a moral responsibility in their relationships with one another through marriage and therefore it has created children who are a product of carelessness because of the environment from which they were conceived. Now lets look at a possible solution to this dilemma that does not involve the government but involves change within our thinking. No program is going to correct the disparities until we get family life back into the thinking of our people and this entails Mom and Dad through marriage and Mom and Dad supporting each other.

  6. “It must be noted that this data is only for those Black students who took the ACT college entrance examination and thus were considering enrolling in college.”

    In some states the ACT test is mandatory and it is taken in the 3rd ( junior ) year. Some students are not required (mentally disabled) and quite a lot of students drop out or are forced out due to criminal activities.
    The ACT score would be even lower if ALL STUDENTS were to take the test. I am thinking that in this event the ACT test would be about 15.
    Also don’t forget the these tests were re-normed about 15 or 20 years ago.
    Do some research.

    • I have listened to all the comments on why African American Students do poorly on the ACT Test. I believe all students no matter their color can score better than what they are scoring if they take the ACT each year of their high school. grade. Many African American students do not take the ACT until their junior or senior year of high school and most only take it once. I believe if the students would take it at the end of each school year around April and then go over where they need to improve. During the Summer and the following Fall get work books on that particular area you are having trouble. My son who is African American took the ACT each year of his high school years. End of Freshman year made a 23, End of Sophomore year a 27 and than end of Junior year a 30. African American can score well!!!

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