Intended and Unintended Effects of State-Mandated High School Science and Mathematics Course Graduation Requirements on Educational Attainment
Published in:
Educational Researcher
June/July 2014

Andrew D. Plunk, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
William F. Tate, Washington University in St. Louis
Laura J. Bierut, Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis
Richard A. Grucza, Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis


Mathematics and science course graduation requirement (CGR) increases in the 1980s and 1990s might have had both intended and unintended consequences. Using logistic regression with Census and American Community Survey (ACS) data (n = 2,892,444), we modeled CGR exposure on (a) high school dropout, (b) beginning college, and (c) obtaining any college degree. Possible between-groups differences were also assessed. We found that higher CGRs were associated with higher odds to drop out of high school, but results for the college-level outcomes varied by group. Some were less likely to enroll, whereas others who began college were more likely to obtain a degree. Increased high school dropout was consistent across the population, but some potential benefit was also observed, primarily for those reporting Hispanic ethnicity.

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