Indicators

Status Dropout Rates
(Last Updated: May 2016)

The status dropout rate decreased from 12.1 percent in 1990 to 6.5 percent in 2014, with most of the decline occurring since 2000. From 1990 to 2014, the Hispanic status dropout rate decreased by 21.8 percentage points, while the Black and White status dropout rates decreased by 5.8 and 3.7 percentage points, respectively. Nevertheless, in 2014 the Hispanic status dropout rate (10.6 percent) remained higher than the White (5.2 percent) and Black (7.4 percent) status dropout rates.

The status dropout rate represents the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds (referred to as youth in this indicator) who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential (either a diploma or an equivalency credential such as a GED certificate).1 Graduation rates reflect the percentage of students earning a regular diploma within 4 years of entering high school. Based on data from the Current Population Survey, the status dropout rate decreased from 12.1 percent in 1990 to 6.5 percent in 2014, with most of the decline occurring after 2000 (when it was 10.9 percent). However, there was no measurable difference between the 2013 rate and the 2014 rate.


Figure 1. Status dropout rates of 16- to 24-year-olds, by sex: 1990 through 2014

Figure 1. Status dropout rates of 16- to 24-year-olds, by sex: 1990 through 2014


NOTE: The “status dropout rate” is the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential (either a diploma or an equivalency credential such as a GED certificate). Data are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons in prisons, persons in the military, and other persons not living in households.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 1990 through 2014. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 219.70.


Between 1990 and 2014, the male status dropout rate declined from 12.3 to 7.1 percent, with nearly the entire decline occurring after 2000 (when it was 12.0 percent). For females, the rate declined from 11.8 percent in 1990 to 9.9 percent in 2000, and then decreased further to 5.9 percent in 2014. In 2014, the status dropout rate was higher for males than for females.


Figure 2. Status dropout rates of 16- to 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity: 1990 through 2014

Figure 2. Status dropout rates of 16- to 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity: 1990 through 2014


NOTE: The “status dropout rate” is the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential (either a diploma or an equivalency credential such as a GED certificate). Data are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons in prisons, persons in the military, and other persons not living in households. Data for all races include other racial/ethnic categories not separately shown. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 1990 through 2014. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 219.70.


In each year from 1990 to 2014, the status dropout rate was lower for White youth than for Black youth, and the rates for both White and Black youth were lower than the rate for Hispanic youth. During this period, the status dropout rate declined from 9.0 to 5.2 percent for White youth; from 13.2 to 7.4 percent for Black youth; and from 32.4 to 10.6 percent for Hispanic youth. As a result, the gap between White and Hispanic youth narrowed from 23.4 percentage points in 1990 to 5.3 percentage points in 2014. Most of this gap was narrowed between 2000 and 2014, when the gap between White and Hispanic youth declined from 20.9 to 5.3 percentage points. Although the rates for both White and Black youth declined from 1990 to 2014, the gap between the rates in 2014 did not measurably differ from the gap between the rates in 1990. However, the White-Black gap narrowed from 6.2 percentage points in 2000 to 2.2 percentage points in 2014.


Figure 3. Status dropout rates of 16- to 24-year-olds, by income level: 1990 through 2014

Figure 3. Status dropout rates of 16- to 24-year-olds, by income level: 1990 through 2014


NOTE: The “status dropout rate” is the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential (either a diploma or an equivalency credential such as a GED certificate). The “lowest” quarter represents the bottom 25 percent of family incomes. The “middle low” quarter represents families between the 25th percentile and the median (50th percentile). The “middle high” quarter represents families with incomes between the median (50th percentile) and the 75th percentile. The “highest” quarter represents the top 25 percent of all family incomes. Data are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons in prisons, persons in the military, and other persons not living in households.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 1990 through 2014. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 219.75.


The status dropout rate also declined for youth in low- and middle-income families between 1990 and 2014. Status dropout rates declined from 24.3 to 11.6 percent for those in families with the lowest incomes (the bottom 25 percent of all family incomes), from 15.1 to 7.6 percent for those in “middle low” income families (families with incomes between the 25th percentile and the median), and from 8.7 to 4.7 percent for those in “middle high” income families (families with incomes between the median and the 75th percentile). For those in the highest income families (the top 25 percent of all family incomes), the status dropout rate in 2014 (2.8 percent) was not measurably different from the status dropout rate in 1990 (2.9 percent). During this period, the status dropout rate for those in the highest income families was consistently lower than the rates for those in all other income groups. Conversely, the rates for those in the lowest income families were consistently higher than the rates for those in the “middle high” and "middle low” income families, with the exception of 2013, when the rates between those in the lowest income families and those in the “middle low” income families were not measurably different. While differences between those in the lowest income families and highest income families remained, the gap in the status dropout rate between these two groups narrowed from 21.4 percentage points in 1990 to 8.8 percentage points in 2014.


Figure 4. Percentage distribution of status dropouts, by years of school completed: 1990 through 2014

Figure 4. Percentage distribution of status dropouts, by years of school completed: 1990 through 2014


NOTE: “Status dropouts” are 16- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential (either a diploma or an equivalency credential such as a GED certificate). Data are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons in prisons, persons in the military, and other persons not living in households.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 1990 through 2014. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 219.75.


The decline in the overall status dropout rate from 12.1 percent in 1990 to 6.5 percent in 2014 coincided with a shift in the distribution of years of school completed by status dropouts, as fewer status dropouts completed less than 9 years of schooling while more completed 11 or 12 years of schooling. The percentage of status dropouts with less than 9 years of schooling decreased from 28.6 percent in 1990 to 15.0 percent in 2014. Conversely, the percentage of status dropouts who had completed 11 or 12 years of schooling but did not receive a diploma or GED certificate increased from 26.1 percent in 1990 to 50.0 percent in 2014.

Status dropout rates can also be calculated using data from the American Community Survey (ACS), which includes individuals living in households as well as institutional and noninstitutional group quarters. Institutional group quarters include adult and juvenile correctional facilities, nursing facilities, and other health care facilities. Noninstitutional group quarters include college and university housing, military quarters, facilities for workers and religious groups, and temporary shelters for the homeless. In 2014, the overall status dropout rate was 6.3 percent; in addition, this rate was lower for those living in households and noninstitutionalized group quarters (6.0 percent) than for those living in institutionalized group quarters (33.1 percent).

The total status dropout rate across individuals in households, institutional group quarters, and noninstitutional group quarters varied by race/ethnicity. The status dropout rate in 2014 was lower for Asian (2.5 percent) and White (4.4 percent) youth than for youth of Two or more races (5.0 percent) and Black (7.9 percent), Pacific Islander (10.6 percent), Hispanic (10.7 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native (11.5 percent) youth. The Asian status dropout rate was also lower than the rate for White youth.


Figure 5. Status dropout rates of 16- to 24-year-olds, by selected Hispanic subgroups: 2014

Figure 5. Status dropout rates of 16- to 24-year-olds, by selected Hispanic subgroups: 2014


! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
‡ Reporting standards not met. Either there are too few cases for a reliable estimate or the coefficient of variation (CV) is 50 percent or greater.
1 Includes other Central American subgroups not shown separately.
NOTE: This figure uses a different data source than figure 2; therefore, estimates are not directly comparable to the estimates in figure 2. The status dropout rate is the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential (either a diploma or an equivalency credential such as a GED certificate). Data are based on sample surveys of persons living in households, noninstitutionalized group quarters (such as college or military housing), and institutionalized group quarters (such as correctional or nursing facilities).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, American Community Survey (ACS), 2014. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 219.80.


Data from the ACS can also be used to estimate the status dropout rate for many specific Asian and Hispanic subgroups, including, for example, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Chinese, and Vietnamese youth. In 2014, the total high school status dropout rate for Hispanic youth was 10.7 percent. Status dropout rates for youth of Guatemalan (28.7 percent), Honduran (19.5 percent), and Salvadoran (14.9 percent) descent were higher than the total rate for all Hispanic youth. In addition, the overall status dropout rate for Central American2 youth (17.8 percent) was higher than the total Hispanic rate. The status dropout rates for the Mexican, Costa Rican, and Other Hispanic groups were not measurably different from the total Hispanic rate. The rates for the remaining Hispanic subgroups were lower than the total Hispanic rate. For example, the status dropout rate was 9.6 percent for Puerto Rican youth, 8.0 percent for Dominican youth, and 6.3 percent for Cuban youth.


Figure 6. Status dropout rates of 16- to 24-year-olds, by selected Asian subgroups: 2014

Figure 6. Status dropout rates of 16- to 24-year-olds, by selected Asian subgroups: 2014


! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
‡ Reporting standards not met. Either there are too few cases for a reliable estimate or the coefficient of variation (CV) is 50 percent or greater.
1 Includes Taiwanese.
2 In addition to the subgroups shown, also includes Sri Lankan.
3 Consists of Indonesian and Malaysian.
NOTE: This figure uses a different data source than figure 2; therefore, estimates are not directly comparable to the estimates in figure 2. The status dropout rate is the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential (either a diploma or an equivalency credential such as a GED certificate). Data are based on sample surveys of persons living in households, noninstitutionalized group quarters (such as college or military housing), and institutionalized group quarters (such as correctional or nursing facilities).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, American Community Survey (ACS), 2014. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 219.80.


Among Asian youth, the total high school status dropout rate was 2.5 percent in 2014. Five Asian subgroups had status dropout rates that were higher than the total Asian rate: Burmese (27.5 percent), Nepalese (19.6 percent), Laotian (8.9 percent), Cambodian (8.4 percent), and Hmong (5.8 percent). In addition, the overall status dropout rate for Southeast Asian3 youth (5.3 percent) was higher than the total Asian rate. Status dropout rates for Japanese (1.3 percent), Chinese4 (1.2 percent), and Korean (0.9) youth were lower than the total rate for all Asian youth. Status dropout rates for the remaining Asian subgroups were not measurably different from the total rate for all Asian youth.


Figure 7. Status dropout rates of 16- to 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity and nativity: 2014

Figure 7. Status dropout rates of 16- to 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity and nativity: 2014


! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
NOTE: This figure uses a different data source than figure 2; therefore, estimates are not directly comparable to the estimates in figure 2. United States refers to the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Marianas. The status dropout rate is the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential (either a diploma or an equivalency credential such as a GED certificate). Data are based on sample surveys of persons living in households and noninstitutionalized group quarters (such as college or military housing). Among those counted in noninstitutionalized group quarters in the American Community Survey, only the residents of military barracks are not included in the civilian noninstitutionalized population in the Current Population Survey. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, American Community Survey (ACS), 2014. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 219.80.


Differences in status dropout rates between U.S.- and foreign-born youth living in households and noninstitutionalized group quarters vary by race/ethnicity. In 2014, Hispanic, Asian, and Pacific Islander youth born in the United States had lower status dropout rates than did their counterparts born outside of the United States. The status dropout rate was 7.6 percent for U.S.-born Hispanic youth versus 20.8 percent for foreign-born Hispanic youth. The status dropout rate was 1.8 percent for U.S.-born Asian youth versus 3.4 percent for their foreign-born peers. The status dropout rate was 7.1 percent for U.S.-born Pacific Islander youth versus 23.4 percent for foreign-born Pacific Islander youth. There were no measurable differences in status dropout rates by nativity for White, Black, and American Indian/Alaska Native youth, or youth of Two or more races.


1 In this indicator, status dropout rates are estimated using both the Current Population Survey (CPS) and the American Community Survey (ACS). CPS data have been collected annually for decades, allowing for the analysis of detailed long term trends, or changes over time, for the civilian, noninstitutionalized population. ACS data cover a broader population, including individuals living in institutionalized group quarters (such as adult and juvenile correctional facilities, nursing facilities, and other health care facilities), noninstitutionalized group quarters (such as college and university housing, military quarters, facilities for workers and religious groups, and temporary shelters for the homeless), and households. The ACS data are available for fewer years than the CPS data, but can be used to provide detail on smaller demographic subgroups.
2 Consists of the Costa Rican, Guatemalan, Honduran, Nicaraguan, Panamanian, and Salvadoran subgroups and other Central American subgroups not shown separately.
3 Consists of the Burmese, Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian, Thai, Vietnamese, and Other Southeast Asian (i.e., Indonesian and Malaysian) subgroups.
4 Includes Taiwanese.


Glossary Terms

Data Sources

Current Population Survey (CPS), American Community Survey (ACS)