Watch CBSN Live

Is your 'A' student really ready for college?

(MoneyWatch) Are high school students prepared for college? The answer you hear from high school teachers is often vastly different from what colleges say.

According to a new study by academic testing company ACT, 89 percent of high school teachers believe that their students are "well" or "very well" prepared for freshman-level college work. By contrast, only 26 percent of college faculty members think students are ready.

The study, which surveyed 9,937 high school and college instructors, underscores the gap between what high school instructors are teaching and what colleges expect their students to know.

"When high school teachers believe their students are well prepared for college-level course, but colleges disagree, we have a problem," said Jon Erickson, ACT's president of education. "If we are to improve the college and career readiness of our nation's high school graduates, we must make sure that our standards are aligned between high school and college."

"States have raised expectations by increasing educational standards over the past few years," Erickson added. "This report provides an important reminder that we also need to bring school curricula up to the same heightened expectations."

While college professors complain that many students are unprepared for the rigors of college work, high school grade point averages have steadily climbed. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average grade point average for male and female high school students, is 3.1 and 2.9, respectively. That has risen steadily over the years. In 1990 boys had an average GPA of 2.59 and girls averaged 2.77

Tellingly, however while GPA's have increased significantly, ACT and SAT test scores have not. That suggests grade inflation is behind the rise in GPA. The bottom line? Kids may be getting good grades in high school and yet still find themselves unprepared for college.