As others have pointed out before me, the way ACT results are reported now paints a misleading portrait of the college-readiness of students, particularly in districts with significant minority populations. One clear example is the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD).
The district bragged in an August 17th press release that “[c]ompared to their state peers, MMSD ethnic and racial subgroups scored 3.5% to 18% higher on the ACT.” Technically true, but only 31.1% of African-Americans and 36.7% of Hispanics in MMSD actually took the test. Compare this to 76.5% and 70.8% respectively in MPS. The disparity makes an accurate comparison of MMSD with MPS, or the rest of state considering that over half of the state’s African-American and Hispanic students who took the test are in MPS, impossible.
The more interesting question spurred by ACT results in Madison and elsewhere is why do so few minority students take a test that is a prerequisite for admittance to a four-year college? Take away Milwaukee and only 38% of Wisconsin African-American and Hispanic high school students took the ACT this year.