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ACT, Inc. Finds That Most Students Today Would Not Meet Common Standards

With 44 states having signed on to adopt the Common Core State Standards, a new report from ACT, Inc. finds that most students today would not be able to meet the standards. A First Look at the Common Core and College and Career Readiness reports that “only one third to one-half of the 11th-grade students are reaching a college and career readiness level of achievement.” The findings of the report are meant to serve as a baseline of students’ current college and career readiness.

Regarding English Language Arts, only 31 percent of students are able to understand complex texts at the level required by the common standards for college and career readiness. To remedy this, ACT recommends that states should ensure that students are reading progressively more complex texts as they advance through the grades. Because only 35 percent of students are able to use language skillfully and to use a rich vocabulary, the report suggests that states should ensure that students gain sufficient understanding of how language varies by context; how to use language effectively for different audiences, purposes, and tasks; and how to gain and use a vocabulary adequate for college and careers. The report also found that students struggle with reading and understanding texts in content areas such as science, history and technical subjects. As a result, states must ensure that teachers in these subject areas use their unique content knowledge to foster students’ ability to read, write, and communicate in the various disciplines.

In Mathematics, a mere 34 percent of students were able to master the foundational number and quantity concepts that will be required in the common standards. ACT proposes that in the early grades, students would benefit from problem solving in novel contexts and hands-on experiences, while in middle and high school, teachers should help students to see connections between Number & Quantity and other Common Core mathematics conceptual categories, particularly Algebra.

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