Curricular Change in California Comprehensive High Schools

1982–83 to 1984–85
Pamela L. Grossman
University of Pennsylvania
Michael W. Kirst
Stanford University
Worku Negash
Ethiopian Civil Service University
Jackie Schmidt-Posner
Stanford University
Michael S. Garet
American Institutes for Research


This study investigates curricular changes in California comprehensive high schools from 1982-83 to 1984-85. During this period a number of educational reforms occurred, all aimed at bolstering the academic demands of secondary schools. Senate Bill 813 mandated more extensive statewide graduation requirements for high schools, while California State Universities and the University of California altered their entrance requirements. In addition, a number of national reports found US high schools lacking in academic rigor (Boyer, 1983; National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983).

Although it is difficult to ascertain the precise causes of change, this study does find changes in the course offerings of a sample of 20 California comprehensive high schools. In almost all cases, our data mirrors statewide curricular changes documented in California Basic Education Data System (CBEDS) data. The general pattern in both sets of data involves increased offerings in academic areas, particularly in math, science, and advanced placement, and decreased offerings in industrial arts, home economics, and business education.

Suggested citationGrossman, P. L., Kirst, M. W., Negash, W., Schmidt-Posner, J., & Garet, M. S., (1985, July). Curricular change in California comprehensive high schools: 1982–83 to 1984–85 [Report].  Policy Analysis for California Education.