U.S. High School Dropout Rate Continues to Decline, Although Demographic Differences Persist

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The share of 16-to-24-year-old civilian, noninstitutionalized Americans who were not enrolled in high school and had not earned a high school diploma or alternative credential in 2013 was 6.8 percent, down from 14.1 percent in 1973, according to a new report by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) for the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

The share of 16-to-24-year-old civilian, noninstitutionalized Americans who were not enrolled in high school and had not earned a high school diploma or alternative credential in 2013 was 6.8 percent, down from 14.1 percent in 1973, according to a new report by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) for the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Similarly, 92 percent of 18- to 24-year olds had received a diploma or GED in 2013, up from 83.7 percent in 1973 and 86.5 percent in 2000. However, differences exist by race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, immigration status and state.

The nation’s progress in reducing the dropout rate is associated with social and economic gains. “Dropping out of high school is related to a number of negative outcomes,” the report’s authors note.

Findings presented in this report use 2013 dropout rates. Data sources include the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population and American Community Surveys as well as figures provided by NCES.

Key findings include:

  •     The overall U.S. high school dropout rate in 2013 was 6.8 percent, down from 14.1 percent in 1973.
  •     The 2013 dropout rates for Asian (3.2 percent) and white (5.1 percent) 16- to 24-year-olds were lower than those of their black (7.3 percent) and Hispanic (11.7 percent) peers.
  •     Between 1973 and 2013, the dropout rates declined from 11.6 percent to 5.1 percent among white youth, from 22.2 percent to 7.3 percent among black youth, and from 33.5 percent to 11.7 percent among Hispanic youth.
  •     Dropout rates also varied among Asian and Hispanic subpopulations. In 2013, the dropout rate for Costa Rican youth was 4.7 percent, compared with 27 percent among Guatemalan youth, 1 percent for Korean youth, and 20.7 percent among Burmese youth.
  •     In 2013, 16- to 24-year olds from the lowest family income quartile had higher status dropout rates (10.7 percent) than their peers from the highest income quartile (3.2 percent).
  •     Foreign-born Hispanic youth were much more likely to drop out compared with first generation Hispanics born in the United States: 22.8 percent versus 8.2 percent.
  •     Dropout rates also varied by state, with the lowest rates in New Hampshire (3.1 percent) and Vermont (3.2 percent), while the highest rates were 11.6 percent in Louisiana and 10.9 percent in Nevada.
  •     Youth with disabilities had a 14.9 percent dropout rate, compared with 6.4 percent for those without disabilities.
  •     In 2013, some 92 percent of 18- to 24-year olds held a high school diploma or alternative credential, up from 83.7 percent in 1973 and 86.5 percent in 2000.
  •     In 2013, the completion rates for white (94.3 percent) and Asian (96.3 percent) young adults were higher than the rates for their black (91.5 percent) and Hispanic (85 percent) peers. Additionally, the rate for Pacific Islander (99.3 percent) young adults was higher than the rate for young adults in all other racial/ethnic groups.

Read the full study Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2013 at http://www.nces.ed.gov.

About AIR
Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education and workforce productivity. For more information, visit http://www.air.org

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Diana Huynh
@Education_AIR
since: 06/2009
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