Missing the Mark: Students Gain Little from Mandating Extra Math and Science Courses

Missing the Mark suggests that changing high school graduation requirements alone may have little effect on students’ college and career readiness.

The report analyzes data from Illinois students attending high school after a law changing high school graduation requirements was enacted in 2005. The law requires high school students to take a minimum of three years of math and two years of science coursework. In the analysis, ACT identified three trends—in course taking, achievement, and college enrollment.

The findings indicate that higher graduation requirements alone are unlikely to improve college and career readiness for high school students. To improve college and career readiness for all students, states and districts should also look for ways to improve student preparation for advanced coursework and to ensure courses remain sufficiently rigorous to challenge all students.


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