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Chapter 2. School-Related Characteristics

Indicator 10. High School Mathematics and Science Coursetaking

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

In 2009, close to 100 percent of high school graduates had taken a mathematics course during high school. Some 69 percent of high school graduates had taken algebra I in 2009 compared with 55 percent in 1982. Eighty-eight percent of high school graduates in 2009 had taken geometry, which was an increase of 41 percentage points from 1982, when 47 percent of high school graduates had taken the course. Similarly, between 1982 and 2009, there was an increase of 36 percentage points in the percentage of graduates who had taken algebra II (from 40 to 76 percent) and of 29 percentage points in the percentage of graduates who had taken analysis/precalculus (from 6 to 35 percent).  Higher percentages of graduates also had taken statistics/probability, calculus, and AP calculus in 2009 (11, 16, and 11 percent, respectively) than in 1982 (1, 5, and 2 percent, respectively). 

As with mathematics, nearly 100 percent of high school graduates in 2009 had taken a science course.  Ninety-six percent of high school graduates in 2009 had completed biology, compared to 77 percent in 1982.  In 2009, some 70 percent of high school graduates had taken chemistry, an increase of 38 percentage points from 1982, when 32 percent had taken it.  Similarly, 36 percent of high school graduates in 2009 had taken physics, compared with 15 percent in 1982, and 28 percent had taken geology/earth science, compared with 14 percent in 1982. The percentages of high school graduates in 2009 who had taken AP/honors biology, AP/honors chemistry, and AP/honors physics (22, 6, and 6 percent, respectively) were higher than the corresponding percentages in 1982 (10, 3, and 1 percent, respectively). 

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