Wednesday, August 08, 2007

High School Economics

Mixed news. First, the good news:

12th-Graders Show Strength in Economics

Twelfth-graders did better on a recent national economics test than they did on similar math or reading tests, according to results released Wednesday.

Forty-two percent of 12th-graders nationwide scored at the proficient level or better on the economics test, meaning they could handle challenging subject matter. In contrast, just 23 percent of 12th-graders hit the proficient mark in math, according to results published earlier this year. In reading, 35 were proficient or better....

Students who took a high-level economics course, such as one labeled Advanced Placement or honors, were more likely to score high on the national test than students who did not take a similar course, according to the governing board.

Then the bad news:
But high schoolers who took a general economics course did not do any better on the economics test than students who didn't take a class, which raises questions about the rigor of those basic-level courses.
I have often worried about the quality of high school economic courses. Over the years, I have met quite a few AP teachers (and even spent some time as a member of the committee that writes the AP exam), and I am confident in the quality of those courses. But the non-AP courses, from reports I have heard, are less consistent in quality. Basic high school courses in economics need to start looking more like the introductory courses taught in college.