Date of this Version
The purpose of this study was to examine whether or not there were changes in certain characteristics of educational programs in grades 9-12 Nebraska public high schools during the era of standards-based reform. This purpose was accomplished by testing for changes between the 1993-94 school year and the 2007-08 school year in the courses high schools offered and in the courses students took. The total program and each of ten designated subject areas that comprise the program were examined. Those ten designated subject areas were language arts, science, social science, mathematics, foreign language, vocational education, visual and performing arts, personal health, personal fitness, and other subjects.
Data were collected from curriculum reports submitted annually by every Nebraska school district to the Nebraska Department of Education. Data were collected from a stratified random sample of 48 school districts. For each school district, instructional units and enrollment units were calculated for each of ten subject areas for the total grades 9-12 program and for each of ten subject areas for 1993-94 and 2007-08. Forty-two hypotheses were then tested to find whether or not there were statistically significant changes between the two school years both in courses offered, as measured by instructional units, and courses taken, as measured by enrollment units.
The results of this study did indicate that there had been certain changes in program offerings and program enrollments from 1993-1994 to 2007-2008. Instructional units increased in foreign language, mathematics, and physical fitness. Enrollment units increased in foreign language mathematics, and social studies. Both instructional units and enrollment units decreased in vocational education.
When these changes were examined in relation to school size, the results showed no consistent correlation. The most pronounced pattern found in this study was that medium-enrollment school districts had more statistically significant changes in their curricular offerings and curricular enrollments than did small-enrollment school districts and large-enrollment school districts.