High School Highlights from the Condition of Education 2012

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) recently released The Condition of Education 2012, a congressionally mandated annual report intended to help inform policymakers and the public about trends and conditions in U.S. education. This year’s report includes 49 indicators covering (1) participation in education, (2) elementary and secondary education and outcomes, and (3) postsecondary education and outcomes. The report also features a closer look at high schools in the United States. The following are just some of the report’s key findings:

  • More high school students take science and math courses: For example, 16 percent of 2009 high school graduates had taken calculus and 11 percent had taken statistics/probability, compared to 7 percent and 1 percent, respectively, of 1990 graduates. Similarly, 70 percent of 2009 high school graduates had taken chemistry and 36 percent had taken physics, compared to 49 percent and 21 percent, respectively, of students in 1990. 
  • Student performance is not improving: In the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading assessment, the average score for 17-year-olds was lower in 2008 (286) than in 1990 (290); in mathematics, the average score for 17-year-olds in 2008 (306) was not significantly different from the score in 1990 (305).
  • Distance learning is growing: In 2009–10, there were over 1.3 million high school distance education course enrollments, compared to 0.2 million in 2003–04. 
  • More high school students participate in athletics: In 2010, some 40 percent of high school seniors participated in athletics, compared to 36 percent of seniors in 1990. 
  • Fewer high school students work: Between 1990 and 2010, the percentage of high school students ages 16 and above who were employed decreased from 32 percent to 16 percent.
  • High school graduation rates are rising: The overall averaged freshman graduation rate (AFGR) was higher for the graduating class of 2008–09 (75.5 percent) than it was for the graduating class of 1990–91 (73.7 percent). 
  • More high school students plan to graduate from college: The percentage of 12th-grade students who had definite plans to graduate from a 4-year college was higher in 2010 (60 percent) than in 1990 (48 percent).
  • More high school graduates are enrolled in college immediately after completing high school: Over the 35-year period between 1975 and 2010, the rate of immediate college enrollment after high school ranged from a low of 49 percent in 1979 and 1980, to a high of 70 percent in 2009.

To learn more about developments and trends in U.S. education at the secondary and other levels, please visit http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/index.asp.

Guest Author: Xiaolei Wang is a Senior Research Analyst at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). She is the task lead for The Condition of Education. AIR’s analysts played a key role in authoring and producing the report, working with data from complex survey designs, conducting statistical analysis and testing, and writing key findings.

Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.

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