Last week, the Department of Education's National Center for

Education Statistics released its annual report, entitled "The

Condition of Education, 1995." The 518-page document looks at

educational trends in the United States over the decade since the

1982 publication of the groundbreaking report, "A Nation At Risk."

The introductory statement by Emerson Elliott, Commissioner of

Education Statistics, highlights the following trends related to

math and science education (the notation "//" means separate

paragraphs have been combined to save space):

"In the 12 years since `A Nation At Risk' advocated tougher course

requirements for high school graduation, states and students have

responded dramatically. High school graduates are taking more

courses overall, particularly academic courses. The proportion of

students completing the recommended core courses in English, math,

science, and social studies has increased, and a greater percentage

is taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses.// In addition, more

students are taking algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus

as well as advanced science courses, including chemistry and

physics...."

"It is also encouraging to see these improvements in high school

course taking reflected in gains in mathematics and science

achievement. Between 1982 and 1992, the mathematics and science

proficiency scores of 17-year-olds on the National Assessment of

Educational Progress (NAEP) increased (9 points on each

assessment)...."

"As a nation, we put great value on mathematics and science.

Recently, this is evident in Goal 5 of the National Education

Goals: `U.S. students will be first in the world in science and

mathematics achievement.' Although, as noted above, the

mathematics and science scores of U.S. students have increased

since the early 1980s, they remain low compared to their

counterparts in many other countries...."// "It is also worrisome

that despite a narrowing in the white-minority gap in achievement

during the 1980s, particularly in mathematics, recent data raise

the possibility that the gap is no longer closing...."

Other science trends noted in the report include:

"In 1992, average science achievement was higher at all three age

levels than in 1982.... In addition, the gap between male and

female scores at ages 13 and 17 has decreased."

"The number of bachelor's degrees earned in the science and

engineering fields peaked in the mid-1980s, representing 22 percent

of the total number of bachelor's degrees conferred in 1986. Since

then, the number of science and engineering degrees conferred has

fallen, reaching 16 percent of total bachelor's degrees conferred

in 1992."// "The number of science and engineering master's and

doctor's degrees conferred grew faster than the total number of

master's and doctor's degrees between 1981 and 1992. However, in

1992, science and engineering master's and doctor's degrees made up

approximately the same percentage of total degrees as they did in

1971."

"The Condition of Education, 1995," NCES 95-273 (ISBN

0-16-048181-3) can be purchased from the

Government Printing Office at (202) 512-1800.