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April 19, 2011

High school grads completing more rigorous courses

 Good news about our nation’s high school graduates came out last week. A NCES report found that 2009 graduates earned more credits (one credit equal one full year course) during their high school careers. As a matter of fact, 2009 graduates earned 27.2 credits compared to 23.6 credits for 1990 graduates. Such an increase may not sound very large but that represents 400 more hours of instructional time. Such an increase in instruction can have a dramatic impact on student achievement.

Furthermore, 2009 graduates just didn’t pad their schedules with classes to boost their GPAs; they actually added more rigorous courses that would prepare them for college or the workforce. For the class of 2009, 59 percent of graduates completed a “mid-level” curriculum that consisted of at least 4 years of English, 3 years of social studies, 3 years of math culminating in at least Algebra II, 3 years of science (at least 2 of those years in biology, chemistry, or physics), and 1 year of a foreign language. In contrast, only 31 percent of 1990 graduates completed such a curriculum.

Completing a “mid-level” curriculum that requires math up to at least Algebra II is just the minimum a current high school student needs to be prepared for life after high school, no matter if that student plans on going to college or going straight into the workforce. As the Center’s report on a 21st Century Education and my presentation on Preparing Students for High School and Beyond both demonstrate, students need to complete at least Algebra II to compete in the 21st century economy.

However, students planning on going to 4-year college should complete a “rigorous” curriculum that includes at least one math course beyond Algebra II, such as trigonometry or pre-calculus. Doing so not only increases their chances of getting into a good college but their chances of going on to earn a 4-year degree as well. Although there are nearly three times as many graduates completing such a curriculum, still just 13 percent of graduates completed such a curriculum. (Only 5 percent did so in 1990.)

Nearly three quarters of high school students say they want to go on to college. To ensure that those students who want to go onto college are prepared, many more of them need to complete more rigorous courses in high school. – Jim Hull

2 responses to “High school grads completing more rigorous courses”

  1. […] And it does look like that many high schools agree. Jim Hull also reported recently that the rigor of the high school curriculum is increasing.  […]

  2. Andrzej says:

    Yes, I believe the rseisecon has affected everyone in some way or another. I know it has affected me and my family. We just have to give up some of the things that we once did or bought to make ends meet. Living in Necedah is not easy with our high taxes and don’t even get me started on our water/sewer bill, it’s like having another house or car payment. Some people just are not willing to live without all their toys. Some times you have to prioritize what is most important. You don’t have to have the best cell phone, the best TV, car, 4 wheeler, etc. Some times things have to be sold. These are just material things and can be replaced when things get better. I’ve listened to some people complain how they can’t pay their bills, and how they can’t afford to buy groceries, all the while smoking one cigarette after another, but they don’t want to give up that expensive habit.As far as the economy improving, well there are jobs out there, just not the ones most people are willing to take. Yeah maybe they are minimum wage but it is better then no wage. Juneau County doesn’t have much to offer and really never did. When you live in small communities sometimes you have to drive a distance for your job.As far as job markets for recent graduates it is tough. Both of my kids have been working since they were 14 and are 19 now. They both wanted cell phones at 14. I told them that if they wanted them they would have to pay for them. They started out at a restaurant, dish washing. Both of them graduated high school last year and are still working. My daughter joined the military and has always had a great work ethic. She has sometimes held down 2 jobs at a time. She has her own apartment, 2 cars, new washer and dryer and manages to pay her bills. In the fall she will be off to college. My son is working and also thinking about joining the military. He owns his own car, boat and lots of other things he has bought with his own money. My kids appreciate and take care of their things better because they had to work for them. The best thing we can do for our kids is to not give them everything they want. Let them pay it.

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