Washington – More than 200,000 Hispanics this year took the ACT test to get into college, more than double the number in 2007, yet Latinos continue to struggle with the test, according to a report released Wednesday.
The annual report said that 200,661 Hispanics in U.S. high schools took the ACT last spring but, for the second consecutive year, just 11 percent demonstrated the required basic competency in areas such as English, math, reading and the sciences.
The report, entitled "College and Career Readiness 2011," was released at a time when, although the Obama administration is emphasizing that the competitiveness of the U.S. labor force is dependent on greater educational opportunities, state governments are facing great pressure to cut their budgets.
"The main message of these figures is that Latinos have been registering slow but sustained progress in the quantity and quality of their participation in these tests," Paul Weeks, vice president of educational services for ACT, a non-profit based in Iowa, told Efe.
"The resources are limited but not the demand (for higher education). The challenges are formidable," said Weeks, who added that ACT participates in projects and initiatives with other organizations to foster opportunities for minorities.
According to the report, between 2007 and 2009 just 10 percent of Hispanics students met or exceeded the minimum qualifications in each of the subject areas on the ACT exam.
Students must achieve a minimum score of 18 in English, 22 in algebra, 21 in social studies and 24 in biology.
This year, 47 percent of Latino students who took the test met or exceeded the minimum level in English, compared with 46 percent in 2010 and 49 percent in 2007.
Meanwhile, 35 percent met the minimum requirements for university preparation in reading. In both 2010 and 2007, the results were 34 percent, according to the report.
In addition, 30 percent achieved or surpassed the minimum skill level in algebra, compared with 27 percent in 2010 and 26 percent in 2007.
In 2011, slightly more than 1.6 million students took the ACT in the United States, 49 percent of the country's total high school population.
Weeks said that the 2011 results are cause for celebration because more and more Latinos - who comprise 18 percent of high school graduates - are finding the motivation to aspire to achieving a higher education.
The report emphasizes the gradual increase in Hispanic participation in this national test: in 2007, 93,147 Latino students took the ACT; in 2008, 114,697; in 2009, 133,569; and in 2010, 157,579.
ACT also offers recommendations for closing the academic gap among Hispanics, including more and better courses in basic subjects that prepare students for college or the job market.