Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Uldis Smidchens

Second Advisor

Dr. David Cowden

Third Advisor

Dr. JoAnn Simon


The literature has pointed toward changes in high school curriculum as a contributor to the decline of standardized test scores during the 1960's and 1970's. During the past few years, many schools have increased graduation requirements in various subject areas in an effort to increase learning on the part of students. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of the number of years of required study in various subject areas on student achievement.

The population that was studied included all public high schools in the State of Michigan. Two hundred thirty-eight schools were sampled from the population, and data were received from 209 of these schools.

The measures of student achievement that were utilized were the mean scores on the American College Testing (A.C.T.) Assessment subtests in the areas of mathematics, science, and social studies.

The results indicated that many high schools in the State of Michigan have increased the number of years of study required in mathematics, science, and social studies. Since 1981, over 51 percent of the reporting schools indicated that changes had been made in mathematics requirements, 38 percent reported changes in science requirements, and 30 percent had made changes in social studies requirements. In addition, many schools indicated that future change is being considered.

Analysis of variance was performed for each of the subject areas of mathematics, science, and social studies, using the number of years of required study and the mean A.C.T. Assessment scores as the independent and dependent variables respectively. A positive relationship could not be established between the number of years of required study and student A.C.T. Assessment scores.

A lack of available data from small schools and a lack of data concerning the actual number of courses taken by students may have contributed to the inconclusive findings. Further research concerning the relationship between high school graduation requirements and student achievement is recommended.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access