Students Earning More Credits, Grades Stagnate; Organization's 'Report Card' Surveys U.S. High Schoolers

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 14, 2011 | Go to article overview

Students Earning More Credits, Grades Stagnate; Organization's 'Report Card' Surveys U.S. High Schoolers


Byline: Ben Wolfgang, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The nation's high school students are earning more college credits on their path to graduation, but steady improvements in grade-point average have slowed in recent years, according to a major new survey from the National Center for Education Statistics.

The NCES released its 2009 Nation's Report Card on Wednesday, with test scores and other information gathered from 610 public schools and 130 private schools across the country. About 37,700 high school graduates were sampled for the report, the first such look at student performance and academic offerings since 2005.

The study found that the average high school graduate earns three more credits than in 1990. Students also are taking more rigorous classes.

For example, more students are enrolled in algebra and other challenging courses earlier, allowing them more time to focus on advanced work such as calculus later in their high school career. The same holds true in other subject areas, such as science, according to the report.

Over the past 20 years, the average GPA of a high school student has risen from 2.68 to 3.0, but that growth virtually stopped six years ago. From 2005 to 2009, GPAs did not change significantly, according to the report.

Despite students taking more difficult classes to prepare themselves for college, there is still a systemic failure in many areas of public education, said Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, a Washington-based advocacy group.

It is very clear we aren't making enough progress, she said Wednesday during a conference call with reporters and educators to discuss the report.

One problem, Ms. Haycock said, is that some rural schools sometimes don't have enough high-performing students to justify a more advanced class curriculum, sometimes setting up a situation in which schools think they must choose between access and excellence, possibly lowering class standards to accommodate more students. …

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