The report, The Condition of College & Career Readiness in 2012, shows that nearly one-third -- 31 percent -- of ACT-tested 2012 graduates in Alabama did not meet any of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in English, mathematics, reading and science, suggesting they are likely to struggle in first-year college courses in all four of those subject areas.
Another 19 percent met only one benchmark, while 19 percent met just two, so a total of 69 percent of test-takers met no more than two of the four benchmarks.
Just 18 percent of Alabama's test-takers met all four benchmarks, compared with 25 percent nationally.
ACT derives College Readiness Benchmarks based on actual grades earned in college by ACT-tested students. They specify the minimum score needed on each of the four ACT subject tests to indicate that a student has a 75 percent chance of earning a grade of C or higher or a 50 percent chance of earning a B or higher in a typical credit-bearing first-year college course in that subject area.
College readiness levels remain low among Alabama's black students. Just 38 percent of the state's black students scored high enough on the English portion of the ACT to be considered college-ready, 10 percent in math, 22 percent in reading and 6 percent in science.
The Alabama Department of Education and its school board looked at past performance on the ACT, as well as a 35 percent remediation rate among the state's college freshmen, when deciding on a complete overhaul of the state's testing regimen.
The new testing system, still in the planning stages, would align with ACT tests that include the Explore test in eighth grade, which aids in planning high school courses and acts as an ACT-prep test; the Plan test, taken in 10th grade to measure academic development and explore career and training options; and the WorkKeys test, a job skills assessment taken in 12th grade.
"There is significant work going on here in Alabama, as well as the other states, to implement a set of high-quality academic expectations that define the knowledge and skills students should master by the end of each grade level in order to be on track for success in college and career," state Superintendent Tommy Bice said. "This ACT report affirms the reason why we are moving our state work toward a new goal of college and career preparedness for all students."