On the Trail of the Omnibeast

Evaluating Omnibus Education Reforms in the 1980s
Pamela L. Grossman
University of Pennsylvania
Michael W. Kirst
Stanford University
Jackie Schmidt-Posner
Stanford University


In this study, the authors investigate 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 U.S. high schools lacking in academic rigor. Although it is difficult to ascertain the precise causes of change, the authors find changes in the course offerings of a sample of 20 California comprehensive high schools. In almost all cases, the data mirror statewide curricular changes documented in California Basic Edu­cation Data System 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.

This article was originally published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis by the American Educational Research Association and SAGE Publications.

Suggested citationGrossman, P. L., Kirst, M. W., & Schmidt-Posner, J. (1986, October). On the trail of the omnibeast: Evaluating omnibus education reforms in the 1980s [Article]. Policy Analysis for California Education.