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Title:  Advanced Mathematics and Science Coursetaking in the Spring High School Senior Classes of 1982, 1992, and 2004
Description: This report presents new time series data on the coursetaking patterns in mathematics and science for the spring high school graduating classes of 1982, 1992, and 2004. Coursetaking information was derived from high school transcripts collected by NCES in the following three studies: (1) High School and Beyond Longitudinal Study of 1980 Sophomores; (2) the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988; and (3) the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002. The analysis addresses overall trends, as well as trends within various subgroups defined by sex, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status (SES), expectations for future educational attainment, and school sector. The report examines trends in academic coursetaking in both mean credits earned in math and science and in the highest course level that high school graduates completed in the two subjects. Some key findings are as follows. First, in mathematics, academic coursework increased from, on average, 2.7 total credits in 1982 to 3.6 total credits in 2004. In addition, graduates shifted from taking lower level mathematics courses to taking more advanced courses. For example, the percentage of graduates who persisted through the mathematics curriculum into the two most advanced levels—precalculus and calculus—tripled between 1982 and 2004. At the subgroup level, while students in each of the four SES quartiles increased their participation in advanced mathematics over time, some disparities increased—for example, the difference between the highest and lowest SES quartiles in precalculus and calculus coursetaking went from 18 percentage points in 1982 to 35 percentage points in 2004. Second, in science, the average number of credits increased from 2.2 total credits in 1982 to 3.3 total credits in 2004. Further, graduates shifted in significant proportions from taking lower level science courses to taking upper level ones. At the subgroup level, despite increased completion of advanced-level science courses by graduates from all school sectors, Catholic and other private school students remained more likely than their public school counterparts to complete advanced-level courses in science.
Online Availability:
Cover Date: August 2007
Web Release: August 9, 2007
Print Release:
Publication #: NCES 2007312
General Ordering Information
Center/Program: NCES
Type of Product: Statistical Analysis Report
Survey/Program Areas: Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS)
High School and Beyond (HS&B)
High School Transcript Studies (HST)
National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88)
Questions: For questions about the content of this Statistical Analysis Report, please contact:
Elise Christopher.