STEM Equity

Fewer STEM Courses in Minority-Majority High Schools

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights recently issued an update on who's taking STEM courses in schools. One big finding: High schools with high black and Latinx student enrollment (those above 75 percent) offered math and science courses at a lower rate than the overall population of high schools. The difference was greatest, the report noted, for advanced math, calculus and physics.

The 2015-2016 Civil Rights Data Collection is a survey of all public schools and school districts in the country that measures student access to courses, programs, staff and resources affecting education equity and opportunity for students.

Fewer STEM Courses in Minority-Majority High Schools

Percentage of high schools providing math and science courses. Source: U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, Civil Rights Data Collection, 2015-2016

The data analysis also found that enrollment in math and science courses has "approached parity" among male and female students. In fact, female student enrollment was higher than male student enrollment for algebra II, advanced math and chemistry courses. The greatest differences among the genders surfaced for physics, where 54 percent of enrollment was made up of male students, and algebra 1, where 53 percent of enrollment was male.

The complete "STEM Course Taking Issue Brief" is openly available on the Department of Education website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.