High school students interested in pursuing a career in STEM should have access to calculus classes in 12th grade, according to a new report by the Los Angeles Education Research Institute (LAERI) at UCLA. The study analyzed college performance among more than 17,000 Los Angeles Unified School District graduates who attended a California community college or Cal State Northridge. It found that students who took math in 12th grade completed more college-level math credits compared to academically similar students who did not take math in 12th grade. It also found that students who took calculus in 12th grade completed more college-level math credits than those who took statistics. The findings underscore the importance of providing access to advanced mathematics courses in high school, which will particularly benefit students interested in pursuing studies in science, technology, engineering and math, said Meredith Phillips, associate professor of public policy and co-founder of LAERI. An earlier report from the institute found that taking 12th grade math improves students’ chances of enrolling and continuing in higher education; the new study assesses student performance in the college environment. The research was funded by the nonprofit College Futures Foundation and conducted by scholars from UCLA, USC, Reed College and Loyola Marymount University. LAERI, based at UCLA Luskin, has collaborated with L.A. Unified for more than 10 years to produce research that district decision-makers and educators use to improve educational quality and equity in Los Angeles.
Read the LAERI reports: