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Projections of Education Statistics to 2016
NCES 2008-060
December 2007

Section 3. High School Graduates: Introduction

Between 2003–04, the last year of actual data, and 2016–17, the number of high school graduates is projected to increase nationally by 5 percent. Public schools are expected to have increases in high school graduates, while private schools are expected to have decreases. Increases are expected in the West and South and decreases are expected in the Northeast and Midwest.

Factors affecting the projections

Projected increases in the number of graduates reflect changes in the 18-year-old population over the projection period, rather than changes in the graduation rates of 12th-graders. However, projections of graduates could be affected by changes in policies influencing graduation requirements.


A high school graduate is defined as an individual who has received formal recognition from school authorities, by the granting of a diploma, for completing a prescribed course of study. This definition does not include other high school completers or high school equivalency recipients.

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