This report examines the relationship between high school academic curricula and students’ persistence path through college, approximately 3 years after first enrolling. The data are drawn from the 199596 Beginning Postsecondary Students Survey, a longitudinal study of beginning post-secondary students who first enrolled in a 4-year college in 199596. Measures of high school academic preparation are based on academic courses taken in high school as reported by students on their college entrance exam applications.
The high school academic curriculum measure identifies three levels of coursetaking: (1) Core curriculum or below, (2) mid-level, and (3) rigorous. The lowest threshold is based on the core New Basics curriculum first recommended by the National Commission on Excellence in Education in A Nation at Risk (1983). Core curriculum includes 4 years of English, 3 years of mathematics, 3 years of science, and 3 years of social studies.1 The highest threshold, or rigorous curriculum, identified in the current study, includes 4 years of English, 3 years of a foreign language, 3 years of social studies, 4 years of mathematics (including pre-calculus or higher), 3 years of science (including biology, chemistry, physics), and at least one Advanced Placement (AP) course or test taken. Mid-level covers curricula between core and rigorous curricula, but at a minimum must include algebra I, geometry, at least 1 year of a foreign language, and two science classes from the combination of biology, chemistry, and physics.2
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