ANN ARBOB (WWJ/AP) – Math and science are on the radar of a growing number of high school students, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Education.
The annual “Condition of Education” report said there has been a marked increase over the last two decades in the percent of high school graduates who had taken calculus, from 7 percent in 1990 to 16 percent in 2009. Overall, the percentage enrolling in math and science courses increased in all subjects except algebra I, a class many students now take in middle school.
This is encouraging news, said University of Michigan Education Professor Nancy Songer, but more still needs to be done.
“It’s a small positive piece of data that we can look at as a positive beginning. I really think there’s a tremendous amount more that we need to do,” said Songer.
The Department of Education, which looks at changes in how and what students are learning, says that despite the increased student enrollment their annual “Condition of Education” report shows that standardized test scores in science and math have essentially stagnated.
According to the report, only one percent of high school seniors scored at the highest achievement level in 2009. This means that 17-year-olds are scoring about the same on math and reading as students did in the 1970s.
“We’re really falling quite short of what we’re [going to] need, and that need is going to be filled by people from other countries,” said Songer. “… the more you can get (students) engaged and get them doing things that they find to be valuable and relevant to their lives in … high school, then they’re more likely to make those choices in college.”
The report also described a number of others changes, including: A huge expansion in public school enrollment in states like Arizona and Nevada that is expected to continue over the next decade; a decrease in the number of children receiving special education services; more teachers with college degrees, and a higher percentage of school principals who are female.
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