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Chapter 4: Academic Preparation and Achievement

Indicator 22: Mathematics and Science Coursetaking in High School

Of high school students who graduated in 2009, a higher percentage of females (37 percent) than males (34 percent) had completed precalculus. The percentage of 2009 high school graduates who had completed biology,chemistry, and physics was lower for females (28 percent) than for males (32 percent). The percentage of Asian/Pacific Islander 2009 graduates who had completed precalculus or had completed biology,chemistry, and physics was higher than the percentages of 2009 graduates of any other racial/ethnic group shown who had completed these courses.

Some 35 percent of high school students who graduated in 2009 had completed precalculus.5 A higher percentage of female (37 percent) than male (34 percent) students who graduated that year had completed precalculus. The same pattern was also observed for Black females and males who graduated in 2009 (25 vs. 20 percent). No measurable differences by sex were observed for 2009 graduates from other racial/ethnic groups.

The precalculus coursetaking pattern among high school students who graduated in 2009 varied across racial/ethnic groups. A higher percentage of Asians/ Pacific Islanders (60 percent) than of students of any other racial/ethnic group shown who graduated that year had completed precalculus. In addition, a higher percentage of White (38 percent) high school graduates of 2009 had completed precalculus than Hispanic (26 percent), Black (23 percent), and American Indian/ Alaska Native (19 percent) high school graduates of that year. The percentage of Hispanic high school graduates who had completed precalculus was higher than those for Black and American Indian/Alaska Native graduates. Similar patterns across racial/ethnic groups were also observed for males and females who graduated from high school in 2009. For example, 63 percent of Asian/ Pacific Islander females and 39 percent of White females had completed precalculus, compared with 28 percent of Hispanic females, 25 percent of Black females, and 17 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native females. Higher percentages of Hispanic females and Black females than of American Indian/Alaska Native females had completed precalculus. No measurable differences were found between Hispanic female and Black female 2009 graduates.

Among 2009 high school graduates, 30 percent had completed biology, chemistry, and physics.6 A higher percentage of males (32 percent) than females (28 percent) who graduated that year had completed these three courses. A similar pattern was observed for 2009 graduates who were White males and females (34 vs. 29 percent), but no measurable differences by sex were observed for 2009 high school graduates from other racial/ ethnic groups.

A higher percentage of 2009 high school graduates who were Asians/Pacific Islanders (54 percent) than of 2009 graduates from any other racial/ethnic group shown had completed biology, chemistry, and physics . A higher percentage of White students who graduated in 2009 (31 percent) had completed these three courses than Hispanics (23 percent), Blacks (22 percent), and American Indians/Alaska Natives (14 percent) who graduated in 2009. The percentages of Hispanic and Black 2009 graduates who had completed the three science courses were also higher than the percentage of American Indian/ Alaska Native 2009 graduates. A similar pattern was also observed for male and female high school graduates separately, except that no measurable differences were detected between the percentages of Black males and American Indian/Alaska Native males. For example, 53 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander males and 34 percent of White males had completed these courses, compared with 24 percent of Hispanic, 21 percent of Black, and 14 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native males.

A higher percentage of students who graduated from high school in 2009 completed precalculus than students who graduated in 2000 (35 vs. 27 percent). This difference in coursetaking between the graduating classes of 2000 and 2009 was also observed by sex and by race/ethnicity, except that no measurable difference was detected between graduates of 2000 and 2009 who were American Indians/Alaska Natives. Specifically, some 34 percent of male and 37 percent of female 2009 graduates had completed precalculus, compared with 25 percent of male and 28 percent of female 2000 graduates. Students who graduated in 2009 completed precalculus at higher percentages than those who graduated in 2000 by these races/ethnicities: Blacks (23 vs. 16 percent), Hispanics (26 vs. 19 percent), Whites (38 vs. 28 percent), and Asians/Pacific Islanders (60 vs. 49 percent).

The percentage of 2009 high school graduates who had completed the three science courses (i.e., biology, chemistry, and physics) was higher than the percentage of 2000 high school graduates who had done so: some 30 percent of 2009 high school graduates had completed these courses, compared with 25 percent of 2000 high school graduates. In addition, 32 percent of male and 28 percent of female students who graduated from high school in 2009 had completed all of these science courses, compared with 26 percent and 24 percent, respectively, of 2000 high school graduates. By race/ethnicity, the percentages of White and Hispanic 2009 graduates who had completed biology, chemistry, and physics were higher than the corresponding percentages of White and Hispanic 2000 graduates.

Technical Notes

This indicator reports the percentage of graduates who earned the indicated Carnegie credit (0.5 = one semester; 1.0 = one academic year) for high school math and science courses according to transcript data. For a transcript to be included in the analyses, it had to meet three requirements: (1) the graduate received either a standard or honors diploma, (2) the graduate’s transcript contained 16 or more Carnegie credits, and (3) the graduate’s transcript contained more than 0 Carnegie credits in English courses. This indicator presents information on Asians and Pacific Islanders as a combined category because the data were collected in a manner that does not permit separate reporting. Since 96 percent of all Asian/Pacific Islander 5- to 24-year-olds are Asian, this combined category substantially reflects the situation for Asians, rather than Pacific Islanders. For more information, please see the introduction to this report.

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Figure 22-1 Percentage of high school graduates who completed precalculus and biology, chemistry, and physics in high school, by race/ethnicity and sex: 2009

Figure 22-2 Percentage of high school graduates who completed precalculus and biology, chemistry, and physics in high school, by sex: 2000, 2005, and 2009

Table E-22-1 Percentage of high school graduates who completed selected mathematics and science courses in high school, by sex and race/ethnicity: 2000, 2005, and 2009


5 Refers to having completed at least 0.5 Carnegie credits of precalculus.
6 Refers to having completed at least one Carnegie credit each of biology, chemistry, and physics.

  
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