Dropout Rates in the United States: 1995 / Executive Summary


Executive Summary

This is the eighth in a series of reports to Congress by the . It presents data on dropout rates in 1995, the most recent year for which data are available, and includes time series data on high school dropout and completion rates for the period 1972 through 1995. In addition to extending time series data reported in earlier reports, this report uses data on country of birth and enrollment in U.S. schools to examine dropout rates among Hispanic young adults who attend U.S. schools. This report uses these and other data available for 1995 to focus on three specific sub-populations that are at particular risk of dropping out of school: foreign-born persons attending U.S. schools, young adults who have been retained a grade or more while enrolled, and individuals who have some type of learning, physical, or other disability.

Event Dropout Rates

Event dropout rates for 1995 describe the proportion of youths ages 15-24 years who dropped out of school in the 12 months preceding October 1995. Demographic data collected as part of the CPS study permit event dropout rates to be calculated across a variety of individual characteristics, including race, sex, region of residence, and income level.

Figure A: Event dropout rates for grades 10-12, ages 15-24, by race-ethnicity: October 1972 through October 1995

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Current Population Survey, October (various years), unpublished data.

Status Rates

Over the last decade, 300 to 500 thousand 10th through 12th graders left school each year without successfully completing a high school program. Each year some of these young adults return to school or an alternative certification program, and others pass out of this age group. Status rates describe the proportion of young adults ages 16-24 years who are considered dropouts in October 1995.

Figure B: Status dropout rates for persons ages 16-24, by race-ethnicity: October 1972 through October 1995

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Current Population Survey, October (various years), unpublished data.

High School Completion Rates

By definition, the completion rate includes everyone reporting a high school diploma or the equivalent, regardless of the type of credential. The data on high school completions discussed here are reported for all 18- through 24-year-olds who held some type of high school certificate in October 1995.

Figure C: Completion rates for persons ages 18-24, by race-ethnicity: October 1972 through October 1995

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Current Population Survey, October (various years), unpublished data.

Immigration, Participation in U.S. Schools, and High School Dropout Rates

The status dropout rates for Hispanic youths have remained at levels consistently higher than the dropout rates experienced by their white and black peers since the early 1970s. Although a number of factors may contribute to these elevated dropout rates, immigrants who come to the U.S. seeking employment without a high school education and never enroll in U.S. schools have traditionally been counted as dropouts. This may lead to an inaccurate view of Hispanic dropout experiences in U.S. schools.

Grade Retention

Students judged by their teachers as not ready for grade promotion are often held back a year to master missed coursework or acquire developmentally appropriate social skills. While not able to disentangle the causal effects of retention on dropout rates, 1992 and 1995 CPS data provide the opportunity to examine, on a national scale, the proportion of young adults who were retained in school. They also allow for the examination of the association between grade retention and dropping out.

Dropping Out and Disabilities

Although they are often held to the same standard as the general population, disabled students must overcome serious obstacles that can interfere with their education. To graduate from high school, disabled students may need to work harder, study longer, or possess greater academic ability than their peers without a corresponding physical, emotional, or learning handicap. The added work and frustration associated with a disability can take its toll over time: national and local studies reveal that disabled youths drop out of school at higher rates than the general population.



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