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Bridging the Gap to Student Readiness

Updated: Apr 11

As we await the national data from this year's SAT and ACT scores, we want to take a moment to reflect on some of the lessons learned from 2022, which underscored the importance of tackling persistent disparities in college readiness.

In 2023, colleges and universities continue to wrestle with the role and impact of college entrance exams in their admissions processes. At Bridges to Readiness, we believe that the problem lies not in the assessments themselves but in the unequal opportunities students face as they prepare for life after high school.

In this blog post, we'll examine the current state of college readiness, discuss recent developments, and explore how we can champion equity by better supporting all students in their pursuit of higher education.

Returning to college entrance exams

Last spring, MIT reinstated its college entrance exam requirement, highlighting the importance of SAT and ACT scores in demonstrating readiness for higher education. According to MIT's admissions dean, not having these scores to consider "tends to raise socioeconomic barriers to demonstrating readiness for our education." This move, echoed by other universities, signals that the income-related disparities we see in SAT and ACT scores are not evidence of an unfair assessment, but rather evidence of an unequal playing field for academic preparation.

What the SAT/ACT really show

The SAT and ACT measure a student's ability to understand complex passages, solve complex mathematical problems, and analyze data – all crucial skills for life. Discarding these assessments doesn't address the underlying injustices students face in today's educational systems. In fact, 32 states still use SAT or ACT scores as part of school accountability, and 19 use them as their high school assessment.

A decline in readiness

Recent data reveals concerning trends in college readiness. In September 2022, NAEP data showed unprecedented declines and generational learning loss. In October, ACT scores dropped to a 30-year low, with only 22% of America's students meeting all four college readiness benchmarks. This number drops to 10% for students from households earning less than $50,000, compared to roughly 50% for students from homes with an income over $150,000.

Levering student optimism as the catalyst

A recent study by the ACT found that students across the United States are expressing unprecedented optimism about their futures, despite facing more significant academic challenges than ever. This juxtaposition of students' optimism and the reality of learning loss creates a unique, time-sensitive opportunity for parents, school leaders, district leaders, and funders to join forces and invest in effective solutions, such as tutoring services, that can harness this positivity and provide much-needed support.

Students' unwavering optimism in the face of adversity is a testament to their resilience and adaptability. They have demonstrated the ability to remain hopeful and engaged, even as they grapple with the challenges of remote learning, social isolation, and academic setbacks. This positivity can serve as a catalyst for change, motivating parents, school leaders, district leaders, and funders to collaborate and find innovative ways, like investing in tutoring services, to address learning loss and help students reach their full potential. Read more about the Bridges to Readiness tutoring approach.

And yet, the limited opportunity to support students is brought into sharp focus by the nearly $20 billion in ESSER funds that may go unspent by the September 2024 deadline. These funds present a unique chance for school districts to invest in initiatives aimed at addressing learning loss and other long-standing challenges within the education system. The urgency of this situation cannot be overstated, as the window of opportunity narrows and the need to improve student outcomes grows more pressing.

A call to action

Now is the time to come together to address learning loss and other long-standing challenges in education. By investing in initiatives like high-dosage tutoring, we can harness students' unwavering optimism and resilience to help them reach their full potential. Visit to learn about how we can support districts, schools, families, and students on a journey towards equitable outcomes for all.

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