A new report from ACT reveals that the vast majority of America’s high school students have not taken the courses they need to be successful in college or in the workforce. The report *Crisis at the Core* found that only 22% of the 1.2 million 2004 high school graduates who took the ACT exam in 2004 met all three of the ACT’s readiness benchmarks in science, math, and English. The report highlights the importance of taking high level courses in math and science.

The report urges schools to strengthen the high school core curriculum to help improve students’ readiness for college and the workforce. Students in K-8 who are not learning the foundational skills for rigorous high school coursework should be identified earlier and provided with supportive interventions, thus preparing them for higher level math and science courses such as trigonometry, pre-calculus, chemistry, and physics.

ACT’s research shows that certain courses such as biology, chemistry, and physics, and advanced math courses beyond Algebra II have a strong impact on student performance and college readiness. ACT refers to these as Courses for Success.

“Our study clearly shows that not only is the number of courses important, but the quality and intensity of these classes will determine if a high school student is ready for college and work,” said Ferguson.

The benefit of taking these courses can be seen in the ACT test scores for the national class of 2004. Students who took trigonometry in addition to the math core�Algebra I, Algebra II, and geometry�scored 2.6 points higher on the ACT Mathematics Test. Similar gains were seen on the ACT Science Test for students who took physics in addition to the science core�biology and chemistry.

Those who took trigonometry and another advanced math course scored even higher, as much as 4.4 points higher over those who took the math core. Score increases were seen for both genders and all racial/ethnic groups. The full report can be found here.