ACT results for 2009 graduates were released today, with the state press release here and a fuller report on Kentucky results here. There will be plenty of attention focused on the percent of students who meet the college readiness benchmarks identified by the ACT company. The graph below puts those numbers into an important context: comparing Kentucky to the other states where all or nearly all students took the ACT.
In that graph, I see two main things.
First, I see no reason to accept Kentucky's current results. Of the five states being compared, we're fourth in English, fourth in reading, fifth in math, fifth in science, and fifth in the combined result for students meeting all four benchmarks. I am completely confident that with focused standards and a strong commitment to teaching quality, we can raise all those results noticably.
Second, I see no evidence for the belief that Kentucky or any other state will ever see all its graduates meeting all four ACT benchmarks. Colorado has 22 percent of its graduates meeting those benchmarks. If Colorado doubles, triples, and quadruples those levels, it still won't reach 100 percent.
[I'm sorry I left the links out yesterday, and they've now been added above.)