Worst at the skills we need the most... 75% not ready for college

WSJ: "We're not making the progress we need to be making," said Bob White, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, an advocacy group focused on boosting high-school graduation rates. "The only way you improve these numbers and get them higher is by improving your secondary schools."

About 1.48 million of the 3.3 million members of the high school class of 2009 took the ACT, typically in their junior year. ACT said its report was based on comparing students' ACT test scores in English, reading, math and science with the grades they earned in related courses during their first year in college.

Of course, improving high schools (something that everyone's in favor of) is more easily said than done. The aversion to any kind of accountability in schools doesn't hep the matter. But until these numbers come up, it's premature to keep talking about expanding college opportunities, as politicians tend to do. Merely pushing them into secondary education just represents a waste of time and human capital.