In early November, ACT and the Council for Opportunity in Education released a report that evaluated the discrepancy in students’ college readiness based on their parents’ education level. The study looks at high-school students who take the ACT and how each student performed on the college-readiness benchmarks, in English, reading, mathematics, and science. They then look to the family history of education to determine if the student intends to be a first-generation college student.
The report’s data shows that about a quarter of high school graduates who took the ACT in 2013 met all four of the college-readiness benchmarks. However, students whose parents did not go to college fared worse on the readiness benchmarks: only 9 percent of the students met all four benchmarks. These results show that there exists a disparity in students’ readiness for postsecondary education based on the education level of their parents. This may occur from a lack of preparedness from the parents, or the inability to show the students what to expect on the test, or how they should work toward getting a good grade. It could be that parents who did not attend college are unaware of the high level of prep work necessary to ensure success at this educational level.
The report did have some positive aspects to its data. Even though the students that did not have parents who attend college had a lower benchmark result than others, almost 94 percent of these students hoped to earn a postsecondary degree, and two-thirds of those students took the core courses that the ACT recommends. This shows that even though the benchmark results were low, there is still ambition from the students considered “first-generation” college students. It shows that even if the statistical odds are against these students and their academic goals, there is always a chance for positive results.