Raising Standards: The Effects of High School Math and Science Courses on Future Earnings

Research Report

Raising Standards: The Effects of High School Math and Science Courses on Future Earnings

November 1, 1998

Abstract

The benefits of mathemateics and science courses in high school were studied using information from the High School and Beyond data set, a study that began with more than 30,000 high school sophomores in 1980. The analysis focuses on approximately 7,000 students who finished their schooling by 1988 and for whom there were valid test scores, transcripts, and data from the 12-year followup survey. Findings provide no direct evidence that taking mathematics and science courses affects earnings. Analysis results do show some indirect effects, in that there is evidence that taking relevant courses improves later skills as measured by test scores. Recent evidence from other sources suggests that skills are an increasingly important determinant of earnings. Mathmatics skills do have an effect on learning, and high school courses do have an effect on mathematics skills. (Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law 6(1), November 1998.)

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