High school grads at South Richmond High School. Photo courtesy of the Staten Island Advance


Percentage of high school grads taking the 2011 ACT who met the benchmarks for college readiness in all subjects for which it tests, barely budging from the 23 percent of high school grads ready for college in 2007. Just 52 percent of grads were ready for college-level reading, while a mere three-in-ten had strong science scores to be ready for university-level work.


The number of high schoolers who tested below levels of college-readiness according to all four benchmarks used by ACT. Or 28 percent of all students taking the exam.


The percentage of African-American students who were college-ready in all subjects, according to their scores on the ACT. That is the lowest percentage among all races and ethnicities tested. A mere six percent of black students scored at college-ready levels on the science portion of the exam, while 21 percent were college-ready in reading.


Percentage of Latino students who were college-ready in all subjects, the second-lowest level. Just 15 percent of Latino students were college-ready in science and 35 percent were ready for college in reading.


Percentage of white students college-ready in all subjects. That’s 10 points below the number of Asian students ready for college in all subjects tested on ACT 2011.


Percentage of students who took core curricula — defined by ACT as four years of English and three years in science, math and social studies — who were college-ready in science. That’s 21 points higher than the percentage of students with less-rigorous curricula proved ready for college.


Percentage of students taking core curricula who were college-reading according to their scores on ACT; 14 points lower than the passing percentage for students who didn’t take a rigorous curricula.

When young men and women get a high-quality education throughout their academic career — including a rigorous, college-preparatory curricula during their middle and high school years — they can take on the rigors of higher education, including traditional college, technical school and apprenticeships, and even take on high-paying white- and blue-collar jobs. But as this year’s ACT results have shown, far too many of our kids — especially black and Latino children — are not getting the teaching and curricula they need to even be ready for higher ed, much less for jobs that require strong reading, math and science skills. And when just one-third of students getting what can loosely be defined as a rigorous curricula have high enough science scores on the ACT to be ready for college-level physics and chemistry, we are doing a disservice to our children and our nation’s future.

The steps taken with Common Core state standards are good ones. But those standards can only be the floor, not the ceiling. More importantly, we must make sure that high-quality curricula is developed along those standards. And without good-to-great teachers, the material will not be worth much to anyone. Let’s get it together.