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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #12-78
August 22, 2012
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson
Issues Statement on 2012 ACT Report

SACRAMENTO—More California students than ever before are taking and performing well on a national test that assesses college and career readiness—and scoring significantly higher than the national average, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.

ACT today released its annual report, The Condition of College and Career Readiness/2012. In 2012, 103,024 Californian students took the ACT, which is a curriculum-based measure of college readiness of high school seniors nationwide in English, mathematics, reading, science, and also includes an optional writing test. The number of California students taking the test rose 4,022 from 2011, and 30,698 from 2008, which represents an average annual increase of 10.6 percent over the past four years.

"College and career readiness are cornerstones of my Blueprint for Great Schools initiative," said Torlakson. "By fostering 21st century learning, we are helping ensure that our students will gain the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in our ever-changing and challenging world. Today's ACT report shows that despite drastic state budget cuts to education, California students—along with their schools and their families—have shown great resiliency in making academic improvements each year."

According to ACT, students reaching a minimum benchmark score on an ACT subject-area have a 50-percent chance of obtaining a B grade or higher, or about a 75-percent chance of obtaining a C or higher in the corresponding college course. The ACT benchmark score for English is 18; mathematics, 22; reading, 21; and science, 24. For 2012, ACT reports that:

  • California students' College Readiness Benchmarks are significantly higher overall than the national averages and in all four subject areas.
    • English: 72 percent of California students who took the ACT met the benchmark, compared to 67 percent nationally.
    • Mathematics: 58 percent, California; 46 percent, nationally.
    • Reading: 58 percent, California; 52 percent, nationally.
    • Science: 35 percent, California; 31 percent, nationally.
  • About 31 percent of California high school graduates who took the ACT met all four of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, compared to 25 percent nationally. California's figure is up 1 percentage point from last year, and continues a five-year upward trend. In 2008, 28 percent of California students met all four benchmarks.

ACT also reports that between 2008 and 2012:

  • African American students meeting three or more of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks rose from 16 to 20 percent.
  • Hispanic students meeting three or more of the Benchmarks rose from 22 to 27 percent.
  • Asian and white students meeting three or more of the Benchmarks rose from 58 to 66 percent and from 63 to 69 percent, respectively.

"I congratulate African American and Hispanic students for improved performance on the ACT exam over the past four years, but I remain concerned that these students continue to lag behind their higher achieving peers," added Torlakson. "Clearly, much more work needs to be done to help these students succeed and realize their dreams of achieving a college education."                    

For more information on national statistics, please visit the ACT [] External link opens in new window or tab. Web site. California's disaggregated data by school for will be posted on the California Department of Education's Postsecondary Preparation Web page when the data become available.

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

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