Share

Studies associated with two National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data collection efforts (High School and Beyond and the National Assessment of Educational Progress) reveal that the two most prominent developments in secondary school course-taking over the last three decades were (1) an increase in the total number of courses taken by graduating seniors; and (2) a sharp drop in the percentage of high school courses taken in vocational fields.1

Endnotes

  • 1The mean total number of credits earned by high school graduates was 21.9 in 1982, 23.6 in 1990, 26.2 in 2000, 26.8 in 2005, and 27.2 in 2009 (U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, National Center for Education Statistics, The 1998 High School Transcript Study Tabulations: Comparative Data on Credits Earned and Demographics for 1998, 1994, 1990, 1987, and 1982 High School Graduates, NCES 2001-498 [Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2001]; U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, America’s High School Graduates: Results from the 2005 NAEP High School Transcript Study, NCES 2007-467 [Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2007]; and U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, America’s High School Graduates: Results from the 2009 NAEP High School Transcript Study, NCES [Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2011]).

I-10a: Mean Number of High School Course Credits Earned in Broad Subject Areas, Graduation Years 1982–2009

Copy link

* Statistically significantly different (p < .05) from 1982 value.
** Includes U.S. and world history, civics/government/politics, economics, world geography, psychology, and sociology credits.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, NAEP Data Explorer, http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/naepdata/. Additional data obtained from U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, High School Coursetaking: Findings from The Condition of Education 2007, NCES 2007-065 (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, 2007), 8 fig. 3, http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2007/2007065.pdf.

This indicator focuses on trends in course-taking in public and private high schools. To ensure that totals are consistent over time, enrollments are reported in Carnegie units (one of which is equal to 120 hours of classroom instruction). The data presented here were collected by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) as part of the high school transcript studies it periodically conducts. Social studies, as defined by NCES, includes history, as well as several subjects that are not treated as part of the humanities for the purposes of the Humanities Indicators. (For an explanation of the way in which the “humanities” is conceptualized by the Humanities Indicators, please see the scope statement.)

Copy link

* The world history and government values for 2009 are significantly different (p < .05) from those for 1990.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, NAEP Data Explorer, http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/naepdata/.

Social studies, as defined by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, includes history, as well as several subjects that are not treated as part of the humanities for the purposes of the Humanities Indicators (for an explanation of the way in which the “humanities” is conceptualized by the Humanities Indicators, please see the scope statement).

Back to Humanities Indicators
Share