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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.

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).

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.

^{1}Math level 1: Simple arithmetical operations on whole numbers: essentially, single-step operations that rely on rote memory.

^{2}Math 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.

^{7}The first language students learned to speak when they were children.

^{8}Other includes two guardians, female guardian only, male guardian only, and guardian who lives with the student less than half of the time.

^{9}Principals 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.

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).

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