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Students Taking More 'STEM' Courses to Graduate

A recent study finds that 2005 high school graduates earned more credits in "STEM" courses than did their counterparts from 1990. Also, although there were gains in such course credits 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. 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—or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—fields, but that there were differences in course-taking habits. In 2005, a larger percentage of females than males earned credits in four specific STEM courses: Algebra II, 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 includes 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.

There's plenty more information to mine in the report, including a look at differences among students from urban, suburban, and rural communities.

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