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Average GPA in High School

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Report Highlights

Statistics on the average GPA in high schools show that the scores have been increasing.

TACT Research conducted analyses to compare first-year college GPA to high school GPA data on the usual grading scale of 4 points.

  • The average high school GPA was 3.00, which was higher when compared to the first-year college GPA.
  • Average female GPA is 3.1, whereas males have an average GPA of 2.9.
  • The average difference reduces with the ACT composite score. When it comes to students who had an ACT composite score of twelve, high school GPA was 0.84 points higher than college GPA.
  • High school GPA was 0.31 higher than college GPA for students who had an ACT composite of 34.

More statistics: High School Statistics, Summer School Statistics, Number of Schools in the US

GPA Scores Have Gone Up Over the Years

average high school GPA

  • According to a 2017 study by Inside Higher Ed, the average high school GPA was 3.38.
  • In 2009, the average high school GPA was 3.0, meaning that the GPA has been rising over the last decades.
  • Because each Carnegie credit is 120 hours of classroom instruction, the students who graduated in 2009 received more than 400 hours more classroom instruction time when they were in high school than the 1990 graduates.

Comparisons by Gender

  • Female students have a higher GPA of 3.1 compared to male students who have 2.9.
  • Between 1990 and 2009, 49% of female graduates completed a mid-level curriculum, which increased by 22 points from the previous years.
  • The percentage of male graduates who completed a mid-level curriculum was 43%, meaning there was a 19-point increase in the percentage.
  • The percentage of female graduates who finished below a standard curriculum declined by 37 points. That means in 1990, this percentage was 61%, and it decreased to 23% in 2009.

Comparisons by Race/Ethnicity

  • Average GPA for Black: 2.69, Hispanic: 2.84, White: 3.09, Asian/Pacific: 3.26
  • Since 1990, a larger proportion of graduates from every racial/ethnic group has completed a rigorous curriculum. Asian and Pacific Islander graduates completed a rigorous curriculum in 2009 at a higher rate (29 percent). This was greater than scores by Black, White, or Hispanic graduates (6 percent, 14 percent, and 8 percent, respectively).
  • From 1990 to 2009, there was an increase in credits that all racial/ethnic groups earned. In 2009, graduates of African descent got 3.9 more credits than what they earned ten years before. Graduates from were white completed 3.7 credits.
  • More than 40% of Hispanic, Black, and White graduates and around 33.33% of Asian/Pacific Islander graduates managed to complete either a standard or a below standard curriculum.
  • In 2009, around 50% of Hispanic graduates and 52% of Black graduates who managed to complete a below-standard curriculum missed the science requirements required to get a standard curriculum.
  • For students who completed a standard curriculum and not a mid-level curriculum,46% of Hispanic and 36% of Black graduates only lacked the science requirements that would allow them to achieve a mid-level curriculum.
  • 33% of White graduates who completed a standard and not a mid-level curriculum and 34% who completed a below standard curriculum but not a standard curriculum didn’t have the science requirements that would see them attaining a standard curriculum.
  • When it comes to Asian/Pacific Islanders, 27% of those who completed a standard curriculum lacked only the science courses required to achieve a mid-level curriculum.
  • 31% of Asian/Pacific Islanders who completed a below standard didn’t have the science requirements that would see them achieve a standard curriculum.
  • Among graduates who were completing a standard curriculum but not a mid-level curriculum, 8-35% lacked multiple requirements that would see them attain a mid-level curriculum.
  • Among graduates who were completing a below-standard curriculum, 19-27% lacked two or more requirements to achieve a standard curriculum.

English Language Learners and Students with Disabilities

  • Students without disabilities earned more GPAs than students with disabilities.
  • In 2019, 8% of the graduates were students with disabilities.
  • Students without disabilities earned more credits than those with disabilities (27.2 credits and 26.8 credits, respectively).
  • Students without disabilities also earned more credits in other academic courses than those with disabilities ( 16.0 credits versus 15.0 credits).
  • Students without disabilities got more credits in other academic courses than those with disabilities (5.4 credits versus 3.7 credits).
  • Students who have disabilities got more credits in other courses than those who don’t have disabilities (8.0 credits versus 5.8 credits)
  • In 2009, more than 50% of students who have disabilities completed a standard curriculum level or higher.
  • Around 25% of students with disabilities completed at least a middle-level curriculum level.
  • 45% of students who have disabilities completed a curriculum that was below standard.
  • Around 75% of students who have disabilities managed to complete a standard curriculum level, while over 50% completed at least a middle-level curriculum level.

Graduates Get More Credits While Completing Higher Curriculum Levels

  • In the year 2009, high school graduates managed to earn over three credits more than counterparts who graduated a decade ago, or about 420 extra hours of instruction while they were in high school.
  • Of the sixteen course subjects that the High School Transcript Study for the year 2000 covered, science and mathematics proved to be the toughest courses for high school students.
  • The 2000 high school graduates managed to earn 67 and  2.60 mean GPAs, respectively, for science and mathematics courses.
  • Both the science and mathematics mean GPAs were lower when compared to the mean GPAs that the HSTS 2000 graduates got for each of the other fourteen course subjects.
  • The 2000 graduates’ lower science and mathematics mean GPAs continued patterns seen from the 1990 transcript study. Science and mathematics courses had the lowest mean GPAs in the sixteen-course subjects of the 1990 high school graduates (2.39 for science and 2.34 for mathematics), 1994 (2.50 for science, 2.44 for mathematics), and 1998 (2.62 for science, 2.56 for mathematics)
  • Of the 16-course subjects, 13-course subjects showed an increase in graduates’ mean GPA from 1990 to 2000.
  • Between the year 1990 and 2000, graduates managed to increase their mean science GPA by a total of 0.28 points as well as their mean social studies GPA, which was by 0.27 points. High school graduates managed to increase their mean mathematics GPA by a total of 0.26 points as well as their mean English GPA by a total of 0.25 points.
  • From 2005 to 2009, English was one of the individual core academic courses that had a significant increase in graduates’ GPAs. In 2005, the average GPA was 2.82, which increased to 2.85 in 2009.
  • In 2009, graduates earned more than 3 credits higher than their 1990 counterparts.

More Female Students Miss Science Requirements to Complete Rigorous or Mid-level Curricula

  • For students who didn’t get a standard curriculum, 9% of female students compared to 7% of male students, missed the maths requirement.
  • The requirement that both female and male students often lacked was science (40% of female and 39% of male students).
  • For graduates who managed to complete a mid-level or standard curriculum, 41% of female graduates versus 30% of males who completed a standard curriculum didn’t have the required science courses to allow them to get a mid-level curriculum.
  • Fifteen percent of female graduates, compared to 9% of male graduates, completing a mid-level missed only the needed science courses to achieve a rigorous curriculum.
  • 26% of male graduates completing a standard curriculum, in comparison to 14% of female graduates, missed only foreign language credits required to achieve a mid-level curriculum.
  • 14% of male members who completed a rigorous curriculum, in comparison to 105 of female graduates, missed only the foreign language credits required to attain a rigorous curriculum.

Comparison of GPA and Other Measures of Academic of Academic Performance and Readiness

  • High schools are of variable quality and a 3.5 GPA at one school may reflect a very different quality of work than a 3.5 GPA at another.
  • The correlation between high school and college GPAs (0.55) is stronger than the correlation between the math score on the SAT and the college GPA.

ACT Data Regarding and High School vs First Year College GPAs

On average, high school GPA is usually 0.66 points higher than the first year of college GPA

With an ACT Composite score of 12, the GPA difference between high school and first year of college was 0.84.

For an ACT Composite score of 34, the difference between high school and first-year college GPA was 0.31, with the college GPA still being lower

Graduates Look for Ways to Earn More Credits

  • Credits that graduating seniors earned in 2009 were 27.2, which was a 3.6 increase from 1990.
  • 30% of graduates who achieve a standard curriculum enrolled in summer classes, in comparison to graduated completing a rigorous (16%), midlevel (19%), standard curriculum (18 %).
  • But 19% of graduates who completed a rigorous curriculum and 16% of graduates who completed a mid-level curriculum also enrolled in summer school classes while in high school.
  • Graduates who decided to take summer school classes attained fewer credits (26.2) and an overall
  • High school graduates who took summer school classes earned fewer credits (26.2 credits) and a grade point average of 2.82, which was lower than those who didn’t enroll in summer school classes (a 3.05-grade-point average and 27.4 credits).

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