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School course titles often overstated course content and challenges 

See other key findings from the report, such as core content made up about two-thirds of graduates' algebra I and geometry courses  and graduates in rigorous algebra I and geometry courses scored higher on NAEP.


Most graduates' algebra I courses ranked at the intermediate level, regardless of the course title.

  • Approximately 73 percent of graduates who took an algebra I class labeled "honors" by their school received a curriculum ranked as an intermediate algebra I course (figure 5).
  • A higher percentage of graduates who took an algebra I class labeled regular by their school (34 percent) received a curriculum ranked as a rigorous algebra I course, compared to graduates who took an algebra I class labeled "honors' by their school (18 percent).

FIGURE 5. Percentage of graduates in algebra I course levels, by school course title and course level: 2005

Image of Figure 5, click on accessible link below to see data tabular format.


*Significantly different (p < .05) from honors.  
NOTE: Details may not sum to total because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, High School Transcript Study (HSTS), Mathematics Curriculum Study, 2005.

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Most graduates received intermediate level geometry course, regardless of course title. 

  • Of the graduates who took a geometry course labeled "honors" by their school, approximately 33 percent received a curriculum ranked as rigorous geometry, whereas 62 percent received a curriculum ranked as intermediate geometry (figure 6).

FIGURE 6. Percentage of graduates in geometry course levels, by school course title and course level: 2005

Image for Figure 6, click on accessible link below to see data in tabular format.
*Significantly different (p < .05) from honors.  
NOTE: Details may not sum to total because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, High School Transcript Study (HSTS), Mathematics Curriculum Study, 2005.

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Last updated 11 March 2013 (TO)
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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education