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U.S. Teenagers Post Academic Improvements Over Past Three Decades

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American teenagers and young adults have made substantial academic improvements over the last three decades, nearly doubling their college-completion rates and improving scores on national mathematics exams, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Education.

The report, produced by the department’s National Center for Education Statistics, notes that the proportion of 25- to 29-year-olds completing college increased from 16 percent in 1970 to 29 percent in 2004. It also says scores on National Assessment of Educational Progress tests in mathematics rose for 13- and 17-year-olds of all races between 1973 and 2004.

But academic gaps between white students and their lower-achieving black and Hispanic peers, while smaller than they used to be, remain large. Among 25- to 29-year-olds in 2004, for example, 11 percent of Hispanics and 17 percent of blacks had earned a bachelor’s degree, compared with 34 percent of whites.

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