Between 1990 and 2010, status dropout rates declined for Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics. Over this period, the status dropout rate was generally lowest for Asians/Pacific Islanders, followed by Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics.
The status dropout rate represents the percentage of 16- through 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 General Educational Development [GED] certificate). In this indicator, status dropout rates are estimated using both the Current Population Survey (CPS) and the American Community Survey (ACS). Data for the CPS have been collected annually over the last few decades, allowing for detailed consideration of long-term trends for those in the civilian, noninstitutionalized population. National-level data from the ACS are available from 2000 onward, and include noninstitutionalized and institutionalized populations. The 2010 ACS has larger sample sizes than the CPS, which allows for more detailed comparisons of status dropout rates by sex, race/ethnicity, and nativity.
Based on the CPS, the status dropout rate declined from 12 percent in 1990 to 7 percent in 2010 (see table A-33-1). Between 1990 and 2010, status dropout rates also declined for Whites (from 9 percent to 5 percent), Blacks (from 13 percent to 8 percent), and Hispanics (from 32 percent to 15 percent). Over this period, the status dropout rate was generally lowest for Asians/Pacific Islanders, followed by Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics. In 2010, the status dropout rate for Asians/Pacific Islanders and Whites (4 percent and 5 percent, respectively) were not measurably different from each other, but both were lower than the status dropout rates for Blacks (8 percent), and Hispanics (15 percent). The gap between Whites and Hispanics narrowed from 23 percentage points in 1990 to 10 percentage points in 2010; the gaps between Whites and Blacks in these two years were not measurably different.
The ACS allows for comparisons of status dropout rates for 16- through 24-year-olds residing in households, as well as those in noninstitutionalized group quarters (such as college housing and military quarters), and institutionalized group quarters (such as adult and juvenile correctional facilities and nursing facilities). Among those living in households and noninstitutionalized group quarters, the status dropout rate was 8 percent in 2010 (see table A-33-2). A higher percentage of males than females were status dropouts (9 vs. 7 percent). This pattern was evident across all racial/ ethnic groups, except for Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders. In 2010, the status dropout rate among the institutionalized population was 37 percent (see table A-33-3).
The status dropout rate includes all 16- through 24-year-old dropouts, regardless of when they last attended school, as well as individuals who may never have attended school in the United States and may never have earned a high school credential. In order to highlight the experiences of young people in our education system, it is possible to isolate data for immigrants, who may have had little or no experiences with the U.S. education system, from those born in the United States, who presumably did attend U.S. schools. In 2010, the status dropout rate for Hispanics born in the United States was higher than the rates for Asians and Whites born in the United States. No measurable differences were found, however, between the rates of U.S.-born Hispanics and Blacks. Overall, the status dropout rate for U.S.-born 16- through 24-year-olds was lower than the rate for their peers born outside of the United States (7 vs. 18 percent). Hispanics and Asians born in the United States had lower status dropout rates than did their counterparts born outside of the United States, whereas U.S.-born Whites and Blacks had higher status dropout rates than did their foreign-born counterparts. A higher dropout rate among Hispanics who were foreign born (31 percent) versus those who were native born (10 percent) partially accounts for the relatively high overall Hispanic dropout rate (16 percent).
The United States refers to the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Current Population Survey (CPS) estimates of the status dropout rate include civilian, noninstitutionalized 16- through 24-year-olds. Young adults in the military or those who are incarcerated, for instance, are not included in the CPS measure. However, the American Community Survey (ACS) estimates of the status dropout rate include those living in noninstitutionalized and institutionalized group quarters. Due to the methodological differences between the CPS and the ACS, status dropout estimates from the two surveys are not directly comparable. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. For more information on race/ethnicity and the status dropout rate, see Appendix C – Commonly Used Measures. For more information on the CPS and the ACS, see Appendix B – Guide to Sources.
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