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Graduation exam participation and performance, graduation rates, and advanced course-taking following changes in New Mexico graduation requirements, 2011–15

New Mexico students who were in grade 9 in 2009/10 and were expected to graduate in 2013 were the first cohort to be required to meet increased math and science course requirements and to take a new graduation exam. The purpose of this study was to describe graduation exam performance of the 2011–2015 cohorts, enrollment in Algebra II and lab science for the 2014–2015 cohorts, and the relationship of exam performance and enrollment with graduation outcomes. Grade 11 and 12 exam results for five cohorts of students—2011 cohort through 2015 are compared. Among students who took an exam in grade 11, the percentages who scored proficient or above on the reading, math, and science components of the exams by grade 12 are compared across cohorts and by gender, race/ethnicity, free or reduced-price lunch eligibility status, and English learner status. Percentages of student subgroups in cohort 2014 and cohort 2015 who took Algebra II and two lab sciences are also compared. The report describes the percentage of students in different subgroups who go on to graduate for those with various levels of performance on the exams and for those who are and are not taking Algebra II and two lab science courses. The results indicate that among students who stayed in school to grade 11, more scored proficient or higher on the math and science components of the graduation exam than before the change in requirements. The increase in proficiency rates for reading, math, and science between 2011 and 2015 was particularly large for Hispanic students and low for Native American students. Among those who stayed in school for four years, the percentage of students enrolling in Algebra II and two lab science courses increased between the 2014 cohort and the 2015 cohort, and Native American students in these cohorts had the highest rates of enrollment in these courses. Students who were proficient in more sections of the exam and students who took Algebra II and two lab science courses had higher rates of graduation than other students. The overall direction of change is positive on these measures, but differences were found in exam performance, course enrollment, and related graduation outcomes by subgroups. These differences may have implications for targeting resources and services for students most in need of support for staying in school and fulfilling requirements necessary to graduate.
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Publication Date:
October 2017