New Report: College Readiness of Latino Students Improving

Latino high school graduates are more prepared for college and workforce training than they were in 2002, according to a recent report released by The ACT, a national achievement testing firm.

The report, “State of College Readiness for Latino Students,” examined college readiness among Latino students in 11th and 12th grades. According to the report, Latino  high school graduates of the class of 2006 increased their average ACT composite, English, mathematics, reading and science scores.

Researchers found the improvements particularly astounding, since nearly 20,000 more Latino graduates took the ACT in 2006 than in 2002.

Improvements in math and science among Latinos in the class 2006 were a direct result of more challenging course work, experts say.

“Between 2002 and 2006, there were slight increases in the percentages of Latino high school students taking higher-level courses. Students enrolled in higher-level mathematics courses, such as trigonometry or calculus, and higher-level science courses, such as chemistry or physics, appeared to increase average ACT mathematics and science scores of Latino high school graduates,” says Scott Gomer, spokesman for The ACT.

Although the improvements seen between 2002 and 2006 in ACT college readiness in English, mathematics and science for Latino high school graduates were equal or slightly lower than those seen nationally, the Latino graduates of 2006 fared no better than their 2002 counterparts in college-level reading.

“There was no significant change in this one area, and there may be a number of reasons why this number did not change. However, we can only document the information. We don’t always have an explanation for what the numbers show,” says Gomer.

The study also found that more than half of ACT-tested Latino high school graduates are enrolling in two-year or four-year colleges.

“Students are taking the PLAN, another assessment test, in the eighth grade and EXPLORE in grades nine or 10, before the ACT, and are finding themselves more prepared. The other tests spotlight the students’ weaknesses and verify their strengths, enabling parents to adjust their child’s curriculum appropriately,” Gomer says.

Latino eighth- and 10th-graders taking the other assessments also showed improvement between 2002 and 2006. Latino eighth-graders increased their average EXPLORE scores in mathematics, while Latino10th-graders increased their average PLAN scores in all four subject areas.

“We’re pleased to see that more and more Latino students are becoming prepared for college,” says Cynthia B. Schmeiser, president of The ACT’s education division. “This report shows the importance of rigorous coursework as a solid foundation for college readiness for all students.”

–Michelle J. Nealy

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