Only 26% of Georgia High School Graduates Who Took the ACT Prepared for College Coursework, ACT Results Show

August 26, 2015

According to an annual ACT report released today, only 26% of 2015 Georgia’s high school graduates who took the ACT are ready for college-level coursework in Mathematics, Reading, English, and Science. 31% of students failed to meet college readiness benchmarks in any subject. These figures show improvement from 2011 when only 21% of Georgia students met all benchmarks. Nationally, 28% of high school graduates met all four benchmarks in 2015.

To determine college readiness, the ACT sets benchmark scores in each subject (English, Reading, Mathematics, and Science) that indicate whether a student is likely to succeed in college courses. ACT developed the benchmarks by tracking a representative sample of students’ actual performance in college courses. Students who meet the benchmark have a 50% chance of earning a B or higher or a 75% chance of earning a C or higher in corresponding freshman-level college courses.

Table 1 shows the College Readiness Benchmarks for each subject area as well as Georgia’s performance in each. Georgia lags the nation for the percent of students meeting the College Readiness Benchmark in both Mathematics and Science.


Table 1: College Readiness of Georgia's High School Graduates


Corresponding College Course

College Readiness Benchmark ACT Score

Percent of Georgia Students Meeting Benchmark

Percent of U.S. Students Meeting Benchmark


English Composition










Social Sciences









*ACT scores range from 1 to 36. The national average score in 2015 was 21.0. Georgia's average score in 2015 was 21.0.

The data also show sizable achievement gaps by race/ethnicity in Georgia. Only 7% of Black students and 20% of Hispanic students met all four benchmarks, while 37% of white students and 50% of Asian students met all four benchmarks.

Georgia’s average ACT score for high school graduates is 21.0, an improvement from the 2011 score of 20.6. Georgia no longer lags the national average ACT score.

Next month, the State Board of Education will adopt standards on the Georgia Milestones, Georgia’s new statewide assessment system in language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies that students took for the first time during the 2014-2015 school year. [1]  This process sets the thresholds for the four performance levels on the test: Beginning Learner, Developing Learner, Proficient Learner, and Distinguished Learner. Historically, Georgia has had one of the largest gaps between our students’ proficiency rates on previous state assessments (CRCT/EOCT) and proficiency on nationwide measures of college and career readiness, such as the ACT, SAT, or NAEP assessments.[2] For example, 93% of high school students met or exceeded standards on the 2013-2014 American Literature EOCT. However, only 46% and 64% of Class of 2015 ACT test takers met the Reading and English benchmarks, respectively. As the cut scores for each performance level are set in the coming weeks, it is important that the new cut scores send a signal of student performance that is more consistent with other measures of college and career readiness.

Released each year, The Condition of College & Career Readiness Report provides an overview of state-level ACT performance and gives a picture of high school graduates’ preparedness for college and careers.  The national report and Georgia’s report are included in the related files below.

[1] To read GOSA’s education update on the Georgia Milestones, click here.

[2] Click here for the May 2015 Achieve report that compares Georgia’s NAEP performance with its CRCT/EOCT performance.