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Schools Offering, Pupils Taking More Basic Fare

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Washington--Public high schools offer more basic courses than they did in 1972, and students are taking more of them, but only 1.8 percent of 1982 high-school graduates met the curriculum standards set by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, according to a new longitudinal study prepared for the National Center for Education Statistics.

The excellence commission recommended in "A Nation at Risk" that all students be required to take three years of science, three years of mathematics, four years of English, three years of social studies and one-half year of computer science; college-bound students, it noted, should also take two years of a foreign language.

But the data suggest that "very few" high-school students take more than one year of either mathematics or science courses. "English and social studies were the two areas where the requirements were most frequently satisfied," the report says.

"Over a student's high-school career, the number of credits earned each year in English tended to remain stable, while there was a steady decline in credits earned in math and science."

The analysis was done by an Arlington, Va., consulting firm, Evaluation Technologies Inc., using data collected by nces in a 1973 survey of curriculum offerings and enrollments and in "High School and Beyond," the ongoing longitudinal study that includes analysis of 12,000 transcripts of 1982 high-school graduates.

"The big difference" in course of-ferings and enrollments between 1971-72 and 1981-82 is the emergence of computer-science courses, according to George H. Brown, who directed the project for nces

More Computer Courses

The survey says that in 1981-82, 61 percent of students attended schools that offered computer-science courses, but only about 3 percent of the total student population took a computer-science course. In 1972-73, computer-science courses were not even listed on the survey.

The report, "A Trend Study of High-School Offerings and Enrollments: 1972-73 and 1981-82," (Stock No. nces 84-224) is available for $7 per copy from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.--jh

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