Just a quarter of this year’s high school graduates who took the ACT tests have the reading, math, English and science skills they need to succeed in college or a career, according to data the testing company released Wednesday.

The numbers are even worse for black high school graduates: Only 5 percent are fully ready for life after high school.

The results, part of ACT’s annual report, indicate thousands of students graduate from high schools without the knowledge necessary for the next steps in life. {snip}

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The ACT report is based on the 54 percent of high school graduates this year who took the exams. {snip}

Under ACT’s definition, a young adult is ready to start college or trade school if he or she has the knowledge to succeed without taking remedial courses. Success is defined as the student’s having a 75 percent chance of earning a C grade and a 50 percent chance of earning a B, based on results on each of the four ACT subject areas, which are measured on a scale from 1 to 36 points.

Of all ACT-tested high school graduates this year, 64 percent met the English benchmark of 18 points. In both reading and math, 44 percent of students met the readiness threshold of 22 points. In science, 36 percent scored well enough to be considered ready for a college biology course, or 23 points.

Only 26 percent of students met the benchmarks for all four sections of the ACT test.

About 69 percent of test takers met at least one of the four subject-area standards. That means 31 percent of all high school graduates who took the ACT were not ready for college coursework requiring English, reading, math or science skills.

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When the testing agency broke down the results by race, fault lines emerged. Just 5 percent of black students are ready for college work in all four areas. Among American Indians, 10 percent are ready in all subjects, while 14 percent of Hispanics are ready. Pacific Islanders post a 19 percent readiness rate for all four subjects. White students have a 33 percent rate, and 43 percent of Asian-American students are ready for studies in all four subjects.

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