Blog: Latino Ed Beat

NCES Report Shows High School Course Gains for Latinos

A new report released by the National Center for Education Statistics sheds some light on the course-taking practices of Latino high school students. In particular, greater numbers of students are taking math and science coursework.

The courses taken changed considerably between 1990 and 2009. For example, the percentage of Hispanic graduates those years who took a calculus course grew from 4 percent to 9 percent.

However, gaps persisted between groups. In 2009, about 42 percent of Asian graduates, 18 percent of white graduates and 6 percent of black graduates had taken calculus.

In addition, the percentage of Hispanics who completed algebra II/trigonometry increased from 40 percent to 71 percent between 1990 and 2009.

In the area of science, Hispanic graduates who had completed a chemistry course increased from 38 to 66 percent.

Programs are working to promote even greater participation in math and science courses by Hispanics. The AP STEM Access Program funded in part by Google intends to expand Advanced Placement courses in hundreds of high schools.

Latinos are underrepresented in AP math and science courses. Latinos in the Class of 2012 made up only about 13 percent of the students who took the AB Calculus exam, for example.

The report, “The Condition of Education 2013,” is a treasure trove of data spanning other areas as well, including test performance, child poverty and postgraduate income.

Try to delve into what courses Latino students are taking in your local school district. If you have STEM magnet programs, how diverse is the enrollment? I expect that promoting STEM among minority students will continue to be a hot topic in the coming years.