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The Changing Profile of a Virginia Graduate: Course Taking and Achievement of Virginia Ninth Graders

by Samantha Viano, PhD, and Katherine Bowser

October 2020

In the inaugural report of the research partnership between the Virginia Department of Education and EdPolicyForward at George Mason University, we began a multi-year study of the effects of a statewide change in graduation requirements by investigating variations in course taking and test scores for all first-time Virginia ninth graders enrolled in Virginia public schools. We noted descriptively that more Virginia ninth graders enrolled in advanced math courses every year between the 2015-16 and 2018-19 school years. These increases were most notable among Black students and free or reduced price lunch students whose enrollment in Geometry increased 14% and 11%, respectively. However, rural and town students did not significantly increase their enrollments in advanced math courses. While enrollments increased over time for suburban and city students such that half were enrolled in Geometry and Algebra II in 2018-19, only about a third of rural and town students enrolled in these courses. Read the Main Brief | View the Appendix