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Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities
NCES 2010-015
July 2010

Indicator 13. Mathematics and Science Coursetaking in High School

This indicator examines the percentage of high school students who completed selected mathematics and science courses using data from high school graduates' transcripts from 1998, 2000, and 2005. These data only report the percentage of students who earned credit in each course while in high school (grades 9–12) and do not count those students who took these courses prior to entering high school.

13.1. Mathematics Coursetaking

Compared with 1998 high school graduates, a higher percentage of 2005 graduates had completed geometry, algebra II, statistics, precalculus, and calculus while in high school. For all racial/ethnic groups, a higher percentage of graduates had completed a geometry course in 2005 than in 1998, including Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians/Alaska Natives: these groups had increases ranging from 12 to 18 percentage points. A similar pattern was found for the completion of algebra II—a higher percentage of White, Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native students had completed algebra II in 2005 than in 1998, and these increases ranged from 7 to 21 percentage points. Partly due to high standard errors, there was no measurable difference between the 1998 and 2005 percentages of Asian/Pacific Islander graduates who had completed algebra II. Furthermore, the gap between the percentage of White students and Black students who had taken algebra II decreased from 9 percentage points in 1998 to 2 percentage points in 2005. Similarly, the gap between the percentage of White students and Hispanic students who had taken algebra II decreased from 16 to 9 percentage points between 1998 and 2005.

A higher percentage of White and Asian/Pacific Islander graduates had completed a calculus course in 2005 than in 1998. During this period, the percentage of White students who had completed a calculus course increased by 3 percentage points, while the percentage of Asian/Pacific Islander students increased by 11 percentage points.

 Among 2005 high school graduates, a lower percentage of Hispanic students had completed courses in geometry, algebra II, and statistics than had White, Black, or Asian/Pacific Islander students. A higher percentage of Asian/Pacific Islander graduates than graduates of other racial/ethnic groups had completed precalculus and calculus courses. For example, 30 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander graduates had completed a calculus course in high school, compared with 15 percent of White, 6 percent each of Black and Hispanic, and 8 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native graduates.

View Table View Table 13a
View Table View Figure 13a

13.2. Science Coursetaking   

A higher percentage of 2005 high school graduates than 1998 graduates completed chemistry and/or physics while in high school. Higher percentages of 2005 graduates who were White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander had completed a chemistry course than had 1998 graduates from those racial/ethnic groups.  In addition, a higher percentage of White graduates had completed physics in 2005 than in 1998. The percentage of 2005 graduates who had completed both a biology and a chemistry course was higher than the percentage of 1998 graduates who had completed both courses, and this held true for White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander graduates. The percentage of 2005 graduates who had completed courses in all three subjects—biology, chemistry, and physics—did not differ measurably from 1998.

In 2005, a higher percentage of Asian/Pacific Islander graduates had completed a chemistry course than had White, Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native graduates. This pattern was also true for physics. Asian/Pacific Islander students had the highest percentages of graduates who completed courses in both biology and chemistry (75 percent) and who completed courses in biology, chemistry, and physics (43 percent). There was a 29 percentage point difference between Asians/Pacific Islanders who took biology, chemistry, and physics and American Indians/Alaska Natives who did so, a 24 percentage point difference between Asians/Pacific Islanders and Hispanics who did so, a 22 point difference between Asians/Pacific Islanders and Blacks who did so, and a 14 percentage point difference between Asians/Pacific Islanders and Whites who did so.  

View Table View Table 13b
View Table View Figure 13b

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education