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Open Access Publications from the University of California

"Rigorous Courses" and Student Achievement in High School


Holding schools accountable for student achievement can only work if the goals are clear. California's school standards are well-regarded nationally for their clarity and their rigor, but it is not clear what courses students are expected to take beyond the minimum graduation requirements. The paper discusses the relatively successful efforts to encourage students to take higher-level courses in high school in two states, Indiana and Texas; it outlines potential stumbling blocks in these efforts; and it suggests three options for California: (1) Do not focus specifically on higher-level course-taking; (2) Propose legislation to raise the minimum courses required for graduation; and (3) Use the bully pulpit to encourage higher-level course-taking in high school.

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