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ACT moves to improve access, increase opportunities for underserved students

ACT today announced three new initiatives designed to help improve college access and increase opportunities for underrepresented students, including low-income students, ethnic minorities and first-generation college students.

The first initiative, “Get Your Name in the Game,” will offer colleges and scholarship agencies access to the names of underserved students participating in ACT’s Educational Opportunity Service starting in the fall of their senior year of high school. EOS is used by colleges and scholarship agencies to reach out to participating students with information about programs and opportunities that may be of interest to them.


“Many underserved students wait until their senior year to take the ACT,” said James Larimore, ACT chief officer for the advancement of underserved learners. “As a result, they miss out on important opportunities to connect with colleges, which tend to focus their recruitment efforts and budgets on 11th graders. Get Your Name in the Game will help those students and colleges find each other. It will improve students’ access to postsecondary opportunities and allow colleges to find students who will add to the vitality and diversity of their campuses.”

ACT research shows that participation in the EOS program can directly benefit students by allowing them to receive information about colleges and programs of which they may not otherwise have been aware. The findings indicate students who participate are more likely to apply to colleges and enroll than those who don’t.

ACT estimates the initiative will benefit as many as 725,000 students per year by providing colleges with no-cost access to the names of high school seniors participating in EOS. Over the next three years, ACT will study the impact of the initiative on college access, enrollment and retention. The organization will reach out to associations that serve the underserved population to make them aware of this change and encourage students to participate in the free program.

Student information is protected and made available through EOS only if a student authorizes ACT to share it. Only selected student information is released through the EOS program and only to organizations that provide educational, scholarship, career, or financial aid opportunities to students. There are stringent restrictions on how student data may be used. ACT follows industry standards for high levels of security to protect private and personally identifiable information.

The second initiative, ACT’s “Dialing for Scholars” project, aims to increase college access by reaching out to underserved students via phone, text or email in the weeks before scheduled national ACT test dates. ACT-registered students who receive fee waivers are twice as likely as other students to not show up on test day. ACT will proactively share information with those students—estimated at 150,000 individuals—to better prepare them for the testing experience and encourage them to show up and take the test. ACT will also provide post-test follow up to help students understand their score reports and prepare them for the college admission process.

The goal of the initiative is to increase the test-taking rate for students with fee waivers by 10 percent. ACT’s data suggest this will result in at least 10,000 additional underserved students enrolling in postsecondary education. For the 2013-2014 academic year, ACT provided fee waivers valued at $32.6 million to more than 700,000 students.

The third initiative is the creation of an advisory council of counselors to work with ACT on the future development of ACT Profile, the organization’s free college and career planning community. More than 1,500 counselors have joined the beta for ACT Profile counselor accounts since September. ACT’s goal is to reach millions of students and the counselors who advise them, delivering personalized insights based on more than 30 years of ACT research, with a particular focus on reaching underserved students.

The three initiatives were to be shared today at the second White House College Opportunity Day of Action, a day-long summit being held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. and attended by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. ACT President Jon Erickson were scheduled to participate in the summit.

From ACT

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