A commencement ceremony at Santa Fe Indian School in New Mexico. Photo: SFIS
Education | National

Data shows steady decline in college readiness among American Indian students

Fewer and fewer American Indian high school students are ready for college, according to the company behind the nation’s most widely used college admission test.

Only 16 percent of Indian students met three or more benchmarks for college readiness in 2017, a report released by ACT on Thursday shows. The data shows they are trailing nearly all of their peers in other racial and ethnic groups.

“While it’s no surprise that underserved students fall behind their peers due to the inequities that exist, it is extremely alarming and concerning to see how large this achievement gap really is,” ACT Chief Executive Officer Marten Roorda said in a press release accompanying the report.

The report also shows a steady decline in the percentage of Indian students who are ready for college. Since 2013, when it was 19 percent, the rate has been slowly but surely dropping.

“This gap presents a major risk to our nation’s goals for postsecondary completion and economic competitiveness," Roorda said.

Since 2013, the percentage of American Indian students who are meeting college readiness benchmarks has slowly declined, according to ACT. Source: The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2017

Only about 1 percent of the students who took the ACT in between 2013 and 2017 identified as American Indian, according the report. That was the smallest of any racial or ethnic group but the results are significant because the test is used to help determine admission for a large number of colleges and universities.

And whether it's math, science, English or reading, the data shows Indian students are failing to meet ACT's benchmarks. In math, for example, only 16 percent were college ready in 2017, far below the national average of 41 percent.

The composite scores of Indian students also have declined since 2013, when the average was 18.0. In 2017, the average was 17.5, down from 17.7 in 2016 and down from 17.9 in 2015.

In comparison, the national average has held steady over the same period. But more and more Indian students are taking the ACT -- in some states, it's mandatory whether or not a student plans to attend college.

According to the report, 16,135 Indian high school students took the ACT in 2017.