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Fewer STEM courses offered in high minority schools

May 03, 2018

The majority (75 percent) of all high school students were enrolled in a STEM course during the 2015-16 school year, according to the newest Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). For the first time, the CRDC includes new categories of data on STEM course taking, showing that some higher level math and science courses are offered at fewer high schools. That figure is even more pronounced at the approximately 5,000 high schools with high black and Latino enrollment (i.e. schools with more than 75 percent black and Latino student enrollment), where higher level mathematics and science courses are offered at a lower rate than the overall population of all high schools.

This difference is greatest with respect to advanced mathematics (offered at 65 percent of all high schools compared to 55 percent of high schools with high black and Latino student enrollment), Calculus (50 percent vs 38 percent), and Physics (60 percent vs 51 percent). However, there was only one percentage point difference in offerings of Algebra I, Geometry and Biology between all high schools and high black and Latino enrollment schools.

The data show that 86 percent of all high schools offered Algebra I, 84 percent offered Geometry, and 80 percent offered Algebra II. Higher level courses were offered at fewer schools: Advanced mathematics was offered at 65 percent of all high schools and only half offered Calculus.

For science courses, 86 percent of the nation’s high schools offered Biology and 73 percent offered Chemistry. However, just 60 percent of high schools offered Physics courses.

Of the 16.7 million students enrolled in high schools, 12.5 million of them were enrolled in Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, advanced mathematics, and/or Calculus. Nearly 9.0 million of the 16.7 million total student population — or about 54 percent of the total high school population — were enrolled in Biology, Chemistry, and/or Physics.

stem, education