The National Center for Education Statistics has released Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 1972-2012. The report draws on an array of nationally representative surveys and administrative datasets to present statistics on high school dropout and completion rates.
The report includes national estimates of the percentage of students who drop out in a given 12-month period (event dropout rates), the percentage of young people in a specified age range who are high school dropouts (status dropout rates), and the percentage of young people in a specified age range who hold high school credentials (status completion rates).
In addition, the report includes state-level data on event dropout rates and the percentage of students who graduate within four years of starting ninth grade (adjusted cohort graduation rate). Data are presented by a number of characteristics including race/ethnicity, sex, and socioeconomic status.
Key findings from this year's report include the following:
On average, 3.4 percent of students who were enrolled in public or private high schools in October 2011 left school before October 2012 without completing a high school program. Event dropout rates have trended downward, from 6.1 percent in 1972 to 3.4 percent in 2012. Black and Hispanic students had higher event dropout rates than White students in 2012 (6.8 percent, 5.4 percent, and 1.6 percent, respectively).
In October 2012, approximately 2.6 million 16- through 24-year-olds were not enrolled in high school and had not earned a high school diploma or alternative credential. These status dropouts accounted for 6.6 percent of the 38.8 million noninstitutionalized, civilian 16- through 24-year-olds living in the United States. Among all individuals in this age group, status dropout rates trended downward between 1972 and 2012, declining from 14.6 percent to 6.6 percent.
The 2012 status dropout rates for Asian/Pacific Islander (3.3 percent) and White (4.3 percent) 16- to 24-year olds were lower than those for Black (7.5 percent), Hispanic (12.7 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native (14.6 percent) 16- to 24-year-olds. White and Black status dropout rates fell from 1972 to 2012, from 12.3 to 4.3 percent and from 21.3 to 7.5 percent, respectively. Between 1972 and 1990, Hispanic status dropout rates showed no clear trend, but between 1990 and 2012 they fell from 32.4 percent to 12.7 percent.
In 2012, 91.3 percent of 18- through 24-year-olds not enrolled in high school had received a high school diploma or alternative credential. Since 1980, the status completion rate has shown an upward trend, starting at 83.9 percent in 1980 and rising to 91.3 percent in 2012.
In 2012, Asian/Pacific Islander (94.9 percent) and White (94.6 percent) young adults had status completion rates that were higher than Black (90.0 percent), Hispanic (82.8 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native (79.0 percent) young adults (table 9). The status completion rate for persons of Two or more races (91.9 percent) did not measurably differ from the rates for White or Asian/Pacific Islander young adults.