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Mini-Digest of Education Statistics 1997

Educational Outcomes

High School Course-Taking Patterns

In 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in Education recommended that all students take 4 years of English, 3 years each of mathematics, science, and social studies, and half a year of computer science. For those going on to college an additional 2 years of foreign language study was highly recommended. Over the past 12 years, the average number of science and mathematics credits earned by high school graduates increased substantially. The mean number of mathematics credits (Carnegie units) earned in high school rose from 2.6 in 1982 to 3.4 in 1994, and the number of science credits rose from 2.2 to 3.0.

The proportion of graduates who completed the full college preparatory program recommended by the Commission on Excellence rose from 3 percent in 1982 to 32 percent in 1994.

Table 14.--Percent of high school graduates earning selected combinations
of academic credits: 1982 and 1994
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- Year of graduation and course combinations taken All graduates --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1982 graduates 4 Eng., 3 S.S., 3 Sci., 3 Math, .5 Comp., & 2 F.L. 2.0 4 Eng., 3 S.S., 3 Sci., 3 Math, & .5 Comp. 2.9 4 Eng., 3 S.S., 3 Sci., 3 Math, & 2 F.L. 9.2 4 Eng., 3 S.S., 3 Sci., 3 Math 14.0 4 Eng., 3 S.S., 2 Sci., 2 Math 31.5 1994 graduates 4 Eng., 3 S.S., 3 Sci., 3 Math, .5 Comp., & 2 F.L. 25.3 4 Eng., 3 S.S., 3 Sci., 3 Math, .5 Comp. 32.0 4 Eng., 3 S.S., 3 Sci., 3 Math, 2 F.L. 39.1 4 Eng., 3 S.S., 3 Sci., 3 Math 49.8 4 Eng., 3 S.S., 2 Sci., 2 Math 74.6 --------------------------------------------------------------------------
NOTE: Eng. = English; S.S. = social studies; Sci. = science; Comp. = computer science; and F.L. = foreign language.

 

Graduates

The number of high school graduates in 1996-97 totaled about 2.6 million. About 2.4 million graduated from public schools and less than 0.3 million graduated from private schools. The number of high school graduates has declined from its peak in 1976-77 when approximately 3.2 million people earned their diplomas. Although the number of graduates has been lower in recent years, the ratio of high school graduates to 17-year-olds has remained relatively stable for more than two decades, declining slightly in the 1970s and increasing slightly in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The actual graduation rate is higher than this ratio of 69.7 because many students complete high school through alternative programs, such as night schools and the General Educational Development (GED) program. In 1995, about 87 percent of all 25- to 29-year-olds had completed high school.


Table 15.--High school graduates compared with population of 17-year-olds:
1976-77 to 1996-97
[In thousands] --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Total High Graduates as School 17-year- school a percent of year olds graduates 17-year-olds --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1976-77 4,272 3,152 73.8 1978-79 4,327 3,101 71.7 1981-82 4,134 2,995 72.4 1983-84 3,784 2,767 73.1 1984-85 3,699 2,677 72.4 1985-86 3,670 2,643 72.0 1986-87 3,754 2,694 71.8 1987-88 3,849 2,773 72.1 1988-89 3,842 2,727 71.0 1989-90 3,574 2,586 72.4 1990-91 3,417 2,503 73.2 1991-92 3,381 2,482 73.4 1992-93 3,433 2,490 72.5 1993-94 3,442 2,479 72.0 1994-95 3,571 2,531 70.9 1995-96 3,629 2,557 70.4 1996-97* 3,762 2,623 69.7 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Preliminary data.

 

Dropouts

The dropout rate among 16- to 24-year-olds has fallen over the past 20 years. Having fallen more for blacks than for whites, the difference in dropout rates between the races has narrowed. The dropout rate for Hispanics remains relatively high at 29 percent, compared to 7 percent for whites and 13 percent for blacks.

Figure 7.--Percent of high school dropouts among 16- to 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity: 1970 to 1996

Figure 7 Chart

 

Table 16.--Percent of high school dropouts among persons 16 to 24 years old,
by race/ethnicity: October 1975 to October 1996
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- White, Black, All non- non- Year races Hispanic Hispanic Hispanic --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1975 13.9 11.4 22.9 29.2 1977 14.1 11.9 19.8 33.0 1979 14.6 12.0 21.1 33.8 1980 14.1 11.4 19.1 35.2 1981 13.9 11.4 18.4 33.2 1982 13.9 11.4 18.4 31.7 1983 13.7 11.2 18.0 31.6 1984 13.1 11.0 15.5 29.8 1985 12.6 10.4 15.2 27.6 1986 12.2 9.7 14.2 30.1 1987 12.7 10.4 14.1 28.6 1988 12.9 9.6 14.5 35.8 1989 12.6 9.4 13.9 33.0 1990 12.1 9.0 13.2 32.4 1991 12.5 8.9 13.6 35.3 1992* 11.0 7.7 13.7 29.4 1993* 11.0 7.9 13.6 27.5 1994* 11.5 7.7 12.6 30.0 1995* 12.0 8.6 12.1 30.0 1996* 11.1 7.3 13.0 29.4 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Wording of questionnaire was changed.
NOTE: Dropouts are persons not enrolled in school who neither graduated from high school, nor received GED credentials.

 

Literacy Rates

Some 90 million adults--about 47 percent of the U.S. population--performed at the two lowest levels of literacy in 1992 on a national survey of adult literacy. Literacy was defined as "using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one's goals, and to develop one's knowledge and potential." Three scales were developed measuring different aspects of literacy: prose, quantitative, and document.

Adults with higher levels of educational attainment had higher average levels of prose literacy. Also, adults aged 19 to 54 had higher average literacy scores than those 55 and older. The differences in literacy between younger and older adults may be due to the higher level of educational attainment among younger adults.

On all three literacy scales, the average literacy scores for Hispanics were below those of blacks which were below those of whites. On the quantitative literacy scale, the difference between blacks and whites was larger than the difference between white high school and college graduates.

Figure 8 Chart

 

Completions

Americans are becoming more educated. Between 1980 and 1996, the proportion of the adult population 25 years of age and over with 4 years of high school or more rose from 69 percent to 82 percent. At the same time, the proportion of adults with at least 4 years of college increased from 17 percent to 24 percent.


Table 17.--Percent of persons 25 years and older who completed various years
of school: 1970 to 1996
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- 4 years Less than of high 4 or 5 years of school more elementary or years of Year school more college --------------------------------------------------------------------------- March 1970 5.3 55.2 11.0 March 1980 3.4 68.6 17.0 March 1985 2.7 73.9 19.4 March 1986 2.7 74.7 19.4 March 1987 2.4 75.6 19.9 March 1988 2.4 76.2 20.3 March 1989 2.5 76.9 21.1 March 1990 2.4 77.6 21.3 March 1991 2.4 78.4 21.4 March 1992 2.8 80.8 21.4 March 1993 2.1 81.5 21.9 March 1994 1.9 80.9 22.2 March 1995 1.8 81.7 23.0 March 1996 1.8 81.7 23.6 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Reading Performance

Long-term trends in reading achievement show improvements for many of the country's 13- and 17-year-old students and for some groups of 9-year-olds. However, many of the advancements in performance that had been made prior to 1988 among black students have not continued--or have reversed between 1988 and 1992.


Table 18.--Proficiency of 17-year-olds in reading, by selected
characteristics: 1971, 1980, and 1996
---------------------------------------------------------- Selected characteristics of students 1971 1980 1996 ---------------------------------------------------------- Total 285.2 285.5 286.7 Sex Male 278.9 281.8 279.9 Female 291.3 289.2 294.4 Race/ethnicity White 291.4 292.8 294.4 Black 238.7 243.1 265.4 Hispanic -- 261.4 264.7 Control of school Public -- 284.4 286.0 Private -- 298.4 294.0 Parents' education level Did not graduate high school 261.3 262.1 267.0 Graduated high school 283.0 277.5 273.0 Post high school 302.2 298.9 297.0 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
-- Data not available.
NOTE: Scale ranges from 0 to 500.

 

Mathematics Performance

Results from national assessments of mathematics achievement indicate that students have made some improvements in their basic computation skills. Average proficiency for 9- and 13-year-olds improved between 1982 and 1992. For 17-year-old students, average proficiency had declined between 1973 and 1982, but an upturn during the past decade returned their performance to the 1973 level. However, the performance of older students on advanced mathematical operations has shown little or no improvement.


Table 19.--Percent of 17-year-old students performing at or above three
mathematics proficiency levels, by race/ethnicity: 1982 to 1996
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- Numerical operations Moderately Multistep and complex problem beginning procedures solving Year and problem and and race/ethnicity solving reasoning algebra --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Total 1982 93 48 6 1990 96 56 7 1992 97 59 7 1996 97 60 7 White 1982 96 55 6 1990 98 63 8 1992 98 66 9 1996 99 69 9 Black 1982 76 17 1 1990 92 33 2 1992 90 30 1 1996 91 31 1 Hispanic 1982 81 22 1 1990 86 30 2 1992 94 39 1 1996 92 40 2 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

College Degrees

The number of degrees conferred by institutions of higher education in 1996-97 was estimated to be 529,000 associate degrees; 1,183,000 bachelor's degrees; 410,000 master's degrees; 77,000 first-professional degrees; and 44,200 doctor's degrees. In 1994-95, women earned the majority of degrees at the bachelor's and master's degree levels.

Figure 9.--Percent of bachelor's, master's, first-professional, and doctor's degrees awarded to women: 1959-60 to 1994-95

Figure 9 Chart


Table 20.--Degrees conferred by institutions of higher education, by level
of degree: 1960-61 to 1996-97
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bachelor's Master's Doctor's Year degrees degrees degrees --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1960-61 365,174 84,609 10,575 1970-71 839,730 230,509 32,107 1980-81 935,140 295,739 32,958 1981-82 952,998 295,546 32,707 1982-83 969,510 289,921 32,775 1983-84 974,309 284,263 33,209 1984-85 979,477 286,251 32,943 1985-86 987,823 288,567 33,653 1986-87 991,264 289,349 34,041 1987-88 994,829 299,317 34,870 1988-89 1,018,755 310,621 35,720 1989-90 1,051,344 324,301 38,371 1990-91 1,094,538 337,168 39,294 1991-92 1,136,553 352,838 40,659 1992-93 1,165,178 369,585 42,132 1993-94 1,169,275 387,070 43,185 1994-95 1,160,134 397,629 44,446 1995-96 \1\ 1,186,000 406,000 43,600 1996-97 \1\ 1,183,000 410,000 44,200 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Projected.

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