Math, Science, and Foreign Language Instruction in California
California's increased high school graduation and college entrance requirements have changed course-taking patterns among California high school students. Enrollment has increased in all levels of math, science, and foreign language instruction. More students are enrolled in advanced placement classes. In addition, California's new state frameworks for math, science, and foreign language contain state-of-the-art instructional guidance for district curriculum leaders and teachers. These accomplishments reflect the goals of recent school reforms and address the belief that in order to be competitive in tomorrow's economy, students need to develop competences in math, science, and foreign language.
In contrast, policy makers and analysts have questioned whether there is a sufficient supply of fully qualified and appropriately credentialed math, science, and foreign language teachers; whether secondary students take enough advanced math, science, and foreign language courses to prepare for college work in these fields; and whether all students are equally likely to enroll in advanced classes.
Policymakers currently have little information on these topics, such as the qualifications of current teachers, the number teaching "out of field," and the impact of state licensing requirements on teacher supply. Nor is there adequate information on enrollments in advanced math, science, and foreign language classes or on accessibility of these classes to members of traditionally underserved minorities.
To address this gap, we examined information from four public data bases and three independent surveys conducted specifically for this report. The resulting analyses regarding student enrollment in math, science, and foreign language classes, teacher supply and demand, and state policies affecting math, science, and foreign language instruction are offered as 1985-86 benchmarks against which to measure California's future performance.