The Condition of College and Career Readiness: 2015: African American Students

By Glen Casey

Although a majority of low and moderate income African-American parents want their children to earn a college degree and nearly 85% of African-American students aspire to earn a college degree, significant gaps exist between current levels of achievement and the college and career readiness these students need to succeed. According to a recent research study released by ACT, a lack of early childhood development, appropriate high school course selection and rigorous course work all negatively impact the success of African-American students.

Among the key findings of this report:

  • Almost 90% percent of low and moderate income African American parents want their children to earn a college degree, and African American and Hispanic parents are significantly more likely than white parents to say it’s essential that their children earn a college degree.
  • Despite a small increase from 2014 results, the percentage of African American students meeting ACT college readiness benchmarks is very low compared to other students. Only 6% of African-American students met the benchmarks in all four subjects (compared to 28% of all students).
    • In English, 34% of African-American students met the college readiness benchmarks, compared to 64% of all students.
    • In reading, 19% of African-American students met the college readiness benchmarks, compared to 46% of all students.
    • In math, 14% of African-American students met the college readiness benchmarks, compared to 42% of all students.
    • In science, 12% of African-American students met the college readiness benchmarks, compared to 38% of all students.
  • African-American students who take the recommended core curriculum (four years of English, and three years each of math, social studies and science) are more likely to be college ready. However, African-American students who take the core curriculum (as well as more college prep courses) are still less likely to meet benchmarks than all other students.
    • Among African-American students who took the core curriculum (and more), only 34% met the English college readiness benchmarks, 21% the reading college readiness benchmarks, 15% the math college readiness benchmarks and 13% the science college readiness benchmarks.
  • The report offers recommended policies and practices on how to address these gaps which can be read in more detail here.