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The High School Senior Class of 2004

This indicator presents national data on high school seniors in 2004 from the First Follow-up of the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002). In particular, this indicator examines 12th-grade senior cohort tested achievement in mathematics and expected educational attainment. These aspects are further examined by a select number of student characteristics.

Mathematics Achievement

The ELS:2002 First Follow-up included an assessment of students' performance in mathematics. The test was designed to measure the achievement status of 12th-graders at both the individual and group levels. This indicator employs a score that allows achievement to be understood in terms of specific levels of skill mastery. The math levels are (1) simple arithmetical operations with whole numbers; (2) simple operations with decimals, fractions, powers, and roots; (3) simple problem solving, requiring the understanding of low-level mathematical concepts; (4) understanding of intermediate-level mathematical concepts and/or multistep solutions to word problems; and (5) complex multistep word problems and/or advanced mathematics material. Table 1 summarizes these findings. About 96 percent of the senior cohort in 2004 were able to perform simple arithmetical operations with whole numbers, and 79 percent were able to perform simple operations with decimals, fractions, roots, and powers (table 1 and figure 1). Some 62 percent were capable of simple problem solving in mathematics, and about a third (35 percent) showed an understanding of intermediate-level mathematical concepts. At the highest level, about 4 percent exhibited a mastery of complex multistep word problems and advanced mathematics. Among the senior cohort in 2004, higher postsecondary educational expectations were associated with higher levels of math performance (table 1). However, 63 percent of seniors who expected to earn a 4-year college degree and 47 percent of seniors who expected to earn a professional degree did not exhibit a mastery of level 4 (understanding of intermediate-level mathematics concepts). In fact, 32 percent and 20 percent, respectively, had not mastered level 3 (simple problem solving requiring the understanding of low-level mathematical concepts).

Figure 1. Percentage of high school seniors, by mathematics mastery level: 2004


Percentage of high school seniors, by mathematics mastery level: 2004

NOTE: Mastery is reported at the group level by calculating the mean of the probability scores in the given area. Since the means are on a decimal scale between 0 and 1, they represent the proportions of members of a subgroup falling within a performance level.
SOURCE: Figure 1 in U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, A Profile of the American High School Senior in 2004, NCES 2006-348, by Steven J. Ingels, Michael Planty, and Robert Bozick. Washington, DC: 2005.

Table 1. Percentage of high school seniors demonstrating mastery of specific mathematics knowledge and skills, by selected student characteristics: 2004


Characteristic Level 1 1 Level 2 2 Level 3 3 Level 4 4 Level 5 5
Total 96.0 78.5 62.4 35.1 3.9
           
Sex          
Male 96.0 79.6 64.0 38.0 5.1
Female 96.1 77.5 60.7 32.3 2.7
Age          
17 or younger 97.4 82.6 66.6 37.7 4.3
18 96.1 78.6 62.7 35.6 3.8
19 or older 85.9 48.3 28.0 10.4 0.9
           
Race/ethnicity 6          
American Indian or Alaska Native 94.5 66.8 42.9 16.1 1.0
Asian or Pacific Islander 97.7 86.1 73.5 49.6 10.9
Black or African American 92.3 59.1 35.8 12.0 0.5
Hispanic or Latino 92.8 64.7 42.7 18.3 1.1
More than one race 95.1 77.7 61.1 31.8 2.6
White 97.6 85.7 72.4 43.6 4.9
           
Native language 7          
English 96.6 80.6 65.0 37.0 3.9
Non-English 92.5 65.5 45.9 23.3 3.5
           
Family composition          
Mother and father 96.9 82.9 68.6 41.3 5.0
Mother or father and guardian 95.8 75.9 57.1 28.2 2.4
Single parent (mother or father) 94.5 70.6 51.9 26.0 2.3
Other 8 90.8 62.9 41.9 14.5 0.8
           
Parents' education          
High School or less 93.4 66.6 45.5 19.5 1.0
Some College 96.0 77.4 58.8 29.3 2.1
College Graduation 97.4 84.6 71.8 43.8 5.0
Graduate/professional degree 98.0 89.8 81.0 57.2 9.8
           
Socioeconomic status          
Lower quarter 92.5 61.6 39.3 15.7 0.7
Middle two quarters 96.1 78.5 61.1 31.2 2.4
Highest quarter 98.8 92.3 83.3 57.9 9.1
           
Highest mathematics coursework          
Pre-algebra or lower 81.2 36.9 17.1 4.7 #
Algebra 1 89.7 44.5 19.4 3.9 #
Geometry 94.1 62.4 35.8 10.5 0.2
Algebra 2 96.9 78.6 57.2 20.8 0.3
Trigonometry, pre-calculus, or calculus 98.9 93.2 85.1 59.8 8.3
           
Student's educational expectations          
High school or less 84.0 44.9 24.6 7.8 0.1
Some college 93.1 62.2 37.2 12.5 0.3
College graduation 97.6 83.8 68.3 37.3 3.2
Graduate/professional degree 98.8 90.5 79.7 52.9 7.6
Don't know 91.5 62.8 42.9 17.3 1.0
           
Postsecondary education plans          
Don't plan to continue 84.7 48.7 25.8 8.1 #
Don't know if will continue 89.8 58.5 38.6 14.9 0.8
Four-year institution 98.3 88.0 75.7 47.5 6.0
Two-year community college 94.1 66.2 43.6 16.9 0.6
Vocational, technical, or trade school 91.6 63.6 40.1 13.2 0.4
           
School sector          
Public 95.8 77.9 61.6 34.5 3.7
Catholic 99.3 92.9 83.5 55.3 6.4
Other private 98.9 93.1 84.3 59.5 11.4
Transfer 9 95.2 72.2 50.8 22.0 1.5
           
School urbanicity          
Urban 94.9 75.8 59.1 32.9 4.2
Suburban 96.6 80.5 65.7 38.8 4.3
Rural 96.4 80.3 63.8 34.9 3.3
Transfer 9 95.2 72.2 50.8 22.0 1.5

# Rounds to zero.
1Math level 1: Simple arithmetical operations on whole numbers: essentially, single-step operations that rely on rote memory.
2Math level 2: Simple operations with decimals, fractions, powers, and roots.
3 Math level 3: Simple problem solving, requiring the understanding of low-level mathematical concepts.
4 Math level 4: Understanding of intermediate-level mathematical concepts and/or having the ability to formulate multistep solutions to word problems.
5 Math level 5: Proficiency in solving complex multistep word problems and/or having the ability to demonstrate knowledge of material found in advanced mathematics courses.
6 All race categories exclude Hispanic or Latino origin.
7The first language students learned to speak when they were children.
8Other includes two guardians, female guardian only, male guardian only, and guardian who lives with the student less than half of the time.
9Principals for students transferring out of their ELS 10th-grade base-year school were not surveyed in the first follow-up survey, limiting the school-level data available in 12th grade.
NOTE: Mastery is reported at the group level by calculating the mean of the probability scores in the given area. Since the means are on a decimal scale between 0 and 1, they represent the proportions of members of a subgroup falling within a performance level. See Appendix A in A Profile of the American High School Senior in 2004 for a complete description of complete description of the probability of proficiency scores.
SOURCE: Table 2 in U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, A Profile of the American High School Senior in 2004, NCES 2006-348, by Steven J. Ingels, Michael Planty, and Robert Bozick. Washington, DC: 2005.

Educational Attainment: Seniors' Expectations

The ELS:2002 first follow-up survey asked seniors about their expectations for the amount of education they were likely to attain in their life. Overall, about 69 percent of the senior cohort expected to complete college with a 4-year degree or higher (34 percent expected to stop with a 4-year college degree, and 35 percent expected to go on to complete a postbaccalaureate graduate or professional program) (table 2). Another 18 percent expected to complete a 2-year postsecondary program or at least attend college. Among the senior cohort in 2004, a greater percentage of seniors with higher math test scores than seniors with lower math test scores expected to earn a graduate or professional degree (58 percent versus 33 and 16 percent) (table 2).

Table 2. Percentage of high school seniors, by expected level of educational attainment and selected student characteristics: 2004


Characteristic High school or less Some college College graduate (4-year degree) Graduate/ professional school Don't know
           
Total 5.0 18.1 33.5 35.0 8.4
           
Sex          
Male 6.9 20.6 34.4 28.8 9.4
Female 3.1 15.6 32.7 41.2 7.4
Age          
17 or younger 3.2 17.0 34.8 37.8 7.3
18 5.4 17.9 33.5 34.6 8.6
19 or older 13.7 28.6 22.7 19.3 15.6
           
Race/Ethnicity 1          
American Indian or Alaska Native 6.8 21.3 26.5 30.9 14.5
Asian or Pacific Islander 2.5 10.4 32.7 47.6 6.9
Black or African American 5.0 18.8 32.1 35.3 8.8
Hispanic or Latino 6.4 23.1 28.2 28.8 13.5
More than one race 6.1 16.3 36.4 30.6 10.7
White 4.7 17.3 35.1 35.9 7.0
           
Native Language 2          
English 4.9 17.7 34.1 35.3 8.0
Non-English 5.6 20.4 29.8 33.1 11.1
           
Family Composition          
Mother and father 4.2 15.8 34.9 38.2 6.8
Mother or father and guardian 6.7 20.7 32.9 29.1 10.7
Single parent (mother or father) 6.0 20.6 31.2 31.8 10.4
Other 3 5.3 29.0 26.3 26.2 13.1
           
Parents' education          
High school or less 9.4 27.2 29.8 22.0 11.5
Some college 5.1 20.9 35.6 29.4 9.0
College graduation 2.6 12.6 38.5 40.1 6.2
Graduate/professional degree 1.5 6.8 28.1 57.9 5.6
           
Socioeconomic status          
Lower quarter 9.6 27.4 28.8 22.0 12.1
Middle two quarters 5.0 19.8 35.6 30.8 8.8
Highest quarter 1.3 7.4 33.4 53.2 4.6
           
Highest mathematics coursework          
Pre-algebra or lower 18.8 33.1 20.2 9.4 18.4
Algebra 1 14.5 37.8 21.8 9.8 16.1
Geometry 8.8 31.0 26.5 19.7 14.0
Algebra 2 4.2 21.9 38.4 26.4 8.9
Trigonometry, pre-calculus, or calculus 1.2 7.2 35.7 51.9 4.0
           
Mathematics achievement test          
Lowest quarter 11.9 31.4 26.4 16.2 14.1
Middle two quarters 3.6 18.7 36.5 33.1 8.1
Highest quarter 0.7 3.6 34.5 57.8 3.4
           
School sector          
Public 5.2 18.8 33.7 33.8 8.4
Catholic 1.0 5.5 38.3 51.3 3.8
Other private 1.0 6.4 32.4 56.2 4.1
Transfer 4 6.0 21.4 29.7 30.8 12.2
           
School urbanicity          
Urban 4.2 15.1 32.9 39.4 8.5
Suburban 4.8 17.2 34.5 35.5 8.0
Rural 6.1 22.9 33.5 30.0 7.5
Transfer 4 6.0 21.4 29.7 30.8 12.2

1All race categories exclude Hispanic or Latino origin.
2The first language students learned to speak when they were children.
3Other includes two guardians, female guardian only, male guardian only, and guardian who lives with the student less than half of the time.
4Principals for students transferring out of their ELS 10th-grade base-year school were not surveyed in the first follow-up survey, limiting the school-level data available in 12th grade.
NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: Table 3 in U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, A Profile of the American High School Senior in 2004, NCES 2006-348, by Steven J. Ingels, Michael Planty, and Robert Bozick. Washington, DC: 2005.

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