A recent study finds that 2005 high school graduates earned more credits in STEM courses than did students who received their diplomas in 1990. Also, although there were gains in course credits for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics across all racial and ethnic groups studied, some gaps remained over time.
For example, in 2005, white graduates earned more credits than black and Hispanic students in the categories of “advanced mathematics” and “advanced science and engineering,” says the study by researchers at MPR Associates Inc., based in Berkeley, Calif. The federally-funded report relies on data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress High School Transcript Study.
Looking at gender, the report finds that both male and female students earned more credits in the stem fields, but that there were differences in course-taking habits. In 2005, a larger percentage of females than males earned credits in four specific courses: Algebra 2, advanced biology, chemistry, and health science/technology. On the other hand, a larger percentage of males earned credits in physics, engineering, engineering/science technologies, and computer/information science.
Overall, the NAEP data from 2005 include transcripts collected from 640 public schools and 80 private schools, constituting what the report calls a nationally representative sample of 26,000 public and private high school graduates.
A version of this article appeared in the February 10, 2010 edition of Education Week as Study: More Students Are Taking STEM Courses, But Gaps Remain