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America's High School Graduates:
Results from the 2009 NAEP High School Transcript Study

April 2011

Authors: Christine Nord, Shep Roey, Robert Perkins, Marsha Lyons, Nita Lemanski, Yael Tamir, Janis Brown, Jason Schuknecht, and Kathleen Herrold.

Download the complete report in a PDF file for viewing and printing.

Cover of America's High School Graduates: Results from the 2009 NAEP High School Transcript Study.

Executive Summary

NAEP Results
Comparisons by Gender
Comparisons by Race/Ethnicity
Other Topics

This report presents information about the types of courses 2009 high school graduates took during high school, how many credits they earned, and the grades they received. Information on the relationships between high school records and performance in mathematics and science on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is also included. Transcripts were collected from about 640 public schools and 80 private schools for the 2005 High School Transcript Study (HSTS). These transcripts constituted a nationally representative sample of 26,000 high school graduates, representing approximately 2.7 million 2005 high school graduates. The 2005 results are compared to the results of earlier transcript studies, and differences among graduates by race/ethnicity, gender, and parent education are examined. Because the study is restricted to high school graduates, it contains no information about dropouts who may differ from graduates. Graduates who receive a special education diploma or certificate of completion are also excluded from analyses in this report unless noted otherwise.

Graduates earn more credits and complete higher curriculum levels

  • In 2009, graduates earned over three credits more than their 1990 counterparts, or about 400 additional hours of instruction during their high school careers.
  • In 2009, a greater percentage of graduates completed higher curriculum levels with greater course requirements than 1990 or 2005 graduates.

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Graduates with stronger academic records obtain higher NAEP scores

  • Graduates who completed an Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) mathematics or science course, a higher level mathematics or science course in ninth grade, or a rigorous curriculum had average NAEP scores at the Proficient level in both mathematics and science.
  • Graduates earning higher GPAs in mathematics and science earned higher average NAEP scores in both mathematics and science.

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Comparisons by gender

  • Both male and female graduates earned more credits in 2009 than in 1990 or 2005.
  • In 2009, a larger percentage of female than male graduates completed a midlevel or rigorous curriculum.
  • In 2009, male graduates generally had higher NAEP mathematics and science scores than female graduates completing the same curriculum level.

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Comparisons by race/ethnicity

  • From 1990 to 2009, the percentage of White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander graduates completing at least a standard curriculum increased. The increase was greater for White and Asian/Pacific Islander graduates than for Black and Hispanic graduates.
  • All four racial/ethnic groups on average earned more credits and higher grade point averages (GPAs) in 2009 than they did in 1990. The GPAs of White and Asian/Pacific Islander graduates also increased between 2005 and 2009.

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Other Topics

The report also takes a closer look at the following topics:

  • Finding time to earn more credits, through summer learning, classes taken for high school credits in middle school, and online learning.
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) coursetaking; and
  • Credits earned, GPAs, and curriculum levels of students with disabilities and English language learners.

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Download the complete report in a PDF file for viewing and printing:

NCES 2011-462: See the entry in the NCES database for contact and ordering information, and for links to similar topics

Suggested Citation
Nord, C., Roey, S., Perkins, R., Lyons, M., Lemanski, N., Brown, J., and Schuknecht, J. (2011). The Nation’s Report Card: America’s High School Graduates (NCES 2011-462). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

For more information, see the results of the 2009 NAEP High School Transcript Study on the Nation's Report Card website.

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Last updated 13 April 2011 (EP)