How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected traditionally disadvantaged students taking the ACT in a low-income Houston high school?



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



During the pandemic, high school students from underserved communities in Houston faced greater challenges in accessing college preparatory resources than ever before. ImpACT (Invested, Motivated, and Prepared for the ACT) is a service-learning project in the Bonner Leaders Program within The Honors College at the University of Houston. Its mission is to fight poverty, bridging the academic achievement gap with personalized college mentorship for underserved high school students. Undergraduate mentors guide students through test-taking strategies for each ACT subject and assist them in navigating their journey to higher education by providing further resources. By working with community partners, undergraduate student mentors, and high school students, ImpACT strives to help students achieve a 2-point ACT score increase (COVID-adjusted), an increase in academic test-taking confidence, and a stronger understanding of post-secondary options. During the fall 2021 semester, ImpACT conducted an ACT and college prep program consisting of seven virtual sessions focused on ACT strategies and practice questions. Seven KIPP Sunnyside seniors participated in the program, which ran from September to October 2021. Students’ ACT scores were collected from ACT exams administered in April 2021, a couple of months before the program, and October 2021, directly after the program. Analysis on student data showed that after participating in the program, the students’ ACT scores remained consistent to national ACT score performance trends, indicating the need to continue providing more support and resources to underserved students at low-income Houston high schools.