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McNair Scholars Program

Alexandra Farmer, M.A.


Education: Bachelor of Arts in modern languages (May 1999)

Master of Arts in German literature from Kansas State University

McNair Project: A Comparison of States' High School Graduation Requirements, Their Documentation, and Goal/Objective Statements (1998)

Mentor: Stephen Benton, Ph.D.

Comparisons were made between U.S. states in high school graduation requirements, their documentation, and goal and/or objective statements. Three high-achieving and three low- achieving states were chosen based on students' American College Test (ACT) scores, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores, percentage of students taking the tests, and high school completion rates. All variables were analyzed using matrices constructed along two dimensions: high and low student achievement by high and low high school completion rate. Then the matrices were compared to find states with high achievement and states with low achievement in all three categories (ACT scores, SAT scores, and high school completion rate). Kansas, Minnesota, and North Dakota were chosen from the high achievement group, and Florida, Georgia, and Texas were chosen from the low achieving group. For high school graduation requirements only small differences were found and no clear pattern emerged. However, a pattern was visible for the documentation and for goals and/or objectives among the states. Florida, Georgia, and Texas showed significant similarities to each other, as did Kansas and North Dakota. Minnesota showed some similarities to both groups. The report includes summaries of the high school graduation requirements of all six states, a short description of the documentation and its availability, and examples of goal and/or objective statements. The appendix includes complete data sets for the ACT scores, the SAT scores, and high school completion rates of all states.