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Students' Access to Business Classes Grows, but Entrepreneurial Aspirations Stall

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More middle and high school students are being exposed to business and financial education in 2012 than they were a year ago, but students' interest in entrepreneurship has remained flat, a new survey shows.

Fifty-nine percent of students in grades 5-12 responding to a national poll said their schools offered classes on how to launch and run a business, an increase from 50 percent the previous year, according to results released by Gallup and Operation HOPE.

The survey did not reveal how many of those experiences came in stand-alone classes, as opposed to business lessons integrated within courses, Gallup officials told Education Week.

At the same time, students' interest in starting a business and generating innovations remained fairly stagnant. Forty-three percent of students polled said they aspired to start their own businesses, a dip from 45 percent a year before, and the portion of students who said they would "invent something that changes the world" remained unchanged, at 42 percent.

The survey also showed some slight differences in opinion along gender lines. Forty percent of male middle and high school students said they planned to launch their own businesses, but a higher percentage of girls had that aspiration, 46 percent. Males were more likely, however, to say they wanted to invent something that changes the world than girls were, by a margin of 45 percent to 40 percent. Gallup did not produce data on how those views had changed over the past year.

The survey is based on a poll of 1,217 students in grades 5-12 around the country, conducted in September and October. The national poll had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Gallup is a well-known name in the world of polling. Operation HOPE is an organization that seeks to lift people out of poverty by supporting financial literacy and providing the disadvantaged with access to capital and other opportunities. It describes itself as the "private banker to the working poor, the underclass, and the struggling middle class."

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