Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

August 1995


Published in Great Plains Research 5:2 (Fall 1995). Copyright © 1995 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Critics of education in the United States asserted that high school students' performance fell after 1960. The decline has been linked to high school curricula which lost academic rigor in comparison to high school curricula in earlier decades. This study investigates the curricula of selected high schools in Nebraska, using random samples of graduating seniors taken every 10 years from 1953 to 1983. Findings show that the proportions of students' programs devoted to more demanding English, social sciences, mathematics, business, and natural science courses diminished during the study period. Grade inflation was observed in smaller public schools, but not in larger public schools nor in Catholic schools.