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High School-Level STEM Initiatives: State Has Adopted Rigorous Graduation Requirements in Math and Science for All Students

Why does it matter?
Research has found that if increased success after high school is the goal of increasing graduation requirements, it is most effective to require specific courses, rather than simply requiring more mathematics and science courses.

Based on research by ACT and Clifford Adelman's 1999 Answers in the Toolbox report and the 2006 follow-up The Toolbox Revisited, ECS considers the following to be rigorous minimum graduation requirements for mathematics and science:
  • Three mathematics credits with the highest course completed Algebra II.
  • Three credits of laboratory science.

  • Highlights:

    Eighteen states currently have, or are phasing in, rigorous graduation requirements in either mathematics or science.

    Currently one state - Texas - requires all students to complete at least three units of mathematics, including Algebra II. An additional 13 states will phase in this requirement by 2015.

    Four states - Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia - currently require all students to complete three units of laboratory science. An additional eight states will phase in this requirement by 2014.

    When these graduation requirements are fully phased-in by the class of 2015, eight states will have rigorous graduation requirements in mathematics and science for all students: South Dakota, Arkansas, Kentucky, West Virginia, Delaware, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.

    Sources for all data points are accessible through this link.

    Methodology: This information was collected from state statutes, rules and regulations, and state education agency Web sites, and will be updated as new policies and programs are enacted.

    Last updated: June 2008

    This database was compiled by Kyle Zinth, policy analyst, ECS Information Clearinghouse. For questions, additions or corrections: 303.299.3673 or kzinth@ecs.org.

    State has adopted rigorous graduation requirements in math and science for all students
    Arizona Yes for mathematics starting with class of 2013.
    Arkansas Yes for mathematics and science starting with class of 2010.
    Delaware Yes for mathematics and science starting with class of 2011.
    Georgia Yes for science.
    Indiana Yes for mathematics starting with class of 2010, and for science starting with class of 2011.
    Kentucky Yes for mathematics and science starting with class of 2012.
    Michigan
    Yes for mathematics and science starting with class of 2011.
    Minnesota Yes for mathematics starting with class of 2015.
    New Mexico Yes for mathematics starting with class of 2013.
    North Carolina Yes for mathematics starting with class of 2013.
    Ohio Yes for mathematics and science starting with class of 2014.
    Oklahoma Yes for science starting with class of 2010.
    South Dakota Yes for mathematics and science starting with class of 2010.
    Tennessee Yes for science.
    Texas Yes for mathematics.
    Virginia Yes for science.
    West Virginia Yes for Science. Algebra II will be recommended but not required for all students starting with class of 2012.


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