Kaleem Caire and the Urban League consistently highlight the performance of Madison African-American and Latino students on the ACT as evidence of what they see as the shortcomings of the education that the Madison school district provides to its students of color.
This excerpt from the Madison Prep website is typical:
All high school seniors in Wisconsin are required to complete the ACT college entrance exam if they want to attend any of the University of Wisconsin System’s 26 public colleges and universities immediately after graduation. There were 378 African American and 191 Latino seniors attending MMSD high schools in 2010; just 76 African American and 71 Latino seniors completed the exam. Just 7% of African American and 18% of Latino seniors completing the ACT college entrance exam were deemed “college-ready” by the test-maker. This means only 5 African American and 13 Latino students in MMSD were academically ready for college.
We recently received information on the graduating class of 2011’s performance on the ACT. Here’s a slew of numbers and percentages from the reports:
113 African-American MMSD students took the ACT, about a 50% increase over the previous year. The average composite ACT score for these students was 18.3, compared to a 17.3 average for MMSD African-American students last year, a 16.2 average for African-American students in Wisconsin, and a 17.0 average for African-American students nationwide. (By the way, the average composite ACT score for students at Urban Prep in Chicago– occasionally held up as a model for Madison Prep – was 16 last year.)
87 Latino MMSD students took the ACT, about a 22% increase over the previous year. The average composite ACT score for these students was 21.0, compared to a 20.1 average for MMSD Latino students last year, a 19.2 average for Latino students in Wisconsin and an 18.7 average for Latino students nationwide.
ACT deems a student “college-ready” if he or she scores at least 18 in English, 22 in Math, 21 in Reading, and 24 in Science on the subparts of the ACT. Overall, 47% of MMSD students met all four benchmarks. The comparable percentages for ACT-tested 2011 graduates in Wisconsin and the United States were 32% and 25%.
The percentages of our African-American students who met the “college ready” benchmark in the various subparts were as follows: 44% in English, 24% in Math, 33% in Reading, and 15% in Science. The percentage of African-American students who met the “college ready” benchmark in all four subjects was 14%. This compares with 4% of ACT-tested African-American students both statewide and nationwide who met the benchmark in all four subjects.
The percentages of our Latino students who met the “college ready” benchmark were: 64% in English, 43% in Math, 54% in Reading, and 25% in Science. The percentage of Latino students who met the “college ready” benchmark in all four subjects was 22%. The percentage for Latino students statewide was 13% and the percentage nationwide was 11%.
So, our numbers are still nothing to brag about, but they show considerable improvement this year over last year and consistently exceed state and national averages in the areas that the Urban League highlights.