Student Achievement

Just 1 in 4 High School Seniors Have Taken Statistics

By Liana Loewus — September 07, 2016 1 min read

Three-quarters of 12th graders attend schools that offer statistics courses, but less than a quarter of students actually take them, according to a recent analysis of national data.

And just 8 percent of high school seniors have taken an Advanced Placement statistics course.

Change the Equation, a nonprofit group that works with the business community to improve STEM learning, looked at data from the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress. The group did a similar analysis for computer science courses last month, and found that more than half of seniors attend high schools that don’t offer the subject.

The findings on statistics show that low-income students are less likely to attend schools that offer statistics courses than their higher income peers—a pattern that held true for computer science as well. And low-income students are also less likely than high-income students to take statistics.

Students in the suburbs were the most likely to attend a high school offering any statistics course, at 86 percent. About 62 percent of 12th grade students in rural areas and towns attend schools with statistics, and 67 percent of students in cities do.

Only about a third of students who live in towns attend schools with AP statistics. Interestingly, students in rural areas are slightly more likely to have access to AP statistics, at 41 percent. More than half of students in cities have access to AP statistics and 71 percent of students in the suburbs do.

While there’s increasing agreement that all students should be exposed to computer science before they graduate from high school, CTEQ notes in its blog post that it may “be an overreach to require every high school student to take a statistics course.” However, the group writes that the amount of data being tracked in all sectors is proliferating quickly, and companies will need more and more people with the skills to analyze massive data sets.


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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.