Thanks are due to Yanfen Mu and Mark Glander of Pinkerton Computer
Consultants for the creation of the tables and to Susan Baldridge,
who created the figures and formatted the report. Special appreciation
goes to Mike Planty and Leslie Scott from Educational Statistical
Services Institute, who provided data and editorial support for
this report. Thank you also to the Census Bureau staff that collect
the CCD data for us, in this effort and for their continual support.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the comments and suggestions
of the reviewers. Reviewers from outside the Department of Education
include: Tom Ogle, Missouri Department of Education; David Smith,
Nevada Department of Education; Myrna Holgate, Idaho Department
of Education; and Phil Kaufman, MPR Associates. Reviewers from the
Department of Education include: Judy Holt, Office of Special Education
Programs; Michael Jones, Office of Vocational and Adult Education;
Mary Schifferli, Office for Civil Rights; and the Budget Service
Office. Thanks to Chris Chapman, Paula Knepper, Marilyn Seastrom,
and John Wirt all from NCES, for their very thorough reviews.
The data in this report would not be possible if not for the hard
work of the state CCD Coordinators; a special "thank you" for sending
in this data so we might share it with others.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) began collecting
the counts of public school dropouts through the Common Core of
Data (CCD) with the 1991–92 school year. A dropout was defined,
in simplified terms, as an individual who had been enrolled at any
time during the previous school year, was not enrolled at the beginning
of the current school year, and had not graduated or transferred
to another public or private school.
The CCD is a voluntary collection, and dropout statistics are
published for only those states whose dropout counts conform to
the CCD definition. Dropout data were reported for 12 states for
1991–92. By 1997–98, this number had increased to 37.
Since 1993, the CCD dropout statistics have been reported in NCES'
annual publication Dropout Rates in the United States in
conjunction with statistics from the Current Population Survey (CPS).
The current report focuses solely on CCD data and introduces a high
school four-year completion rate based upon dropout and completion
statistics. The four-year completion rate is the proportion of students
who leave school from the 9th through 12th
grades who do so as completers. It is relatively unaffected by net
enrollment loss or gain due to population changes or by double-counting
students who are retained in a grade during the high school years.
Unlike the high school completion rate reported from the CPS, which
is based on all 18- to 24-year-olds, the CCD four-year completion
rate is limited to public school data from grades 9 through 12 over
4 years. The CCD rate thus excludes some persons reported through
the CPS who completed high school or who received a GED-based equivalency
credential in their twenties, as well as those who graduated from
nonpublic schools. It should be stressed that this report does not
include all states; the statistics are valid for those states reporting
but may not be nationally representative.
Some of the major findings from the analysis of public high school
dropout and four-year completion rate data are the following:
- Between 1993–94 and 1997–98 (years in which the
numbers of reporting states were similar), the high school dropout
rates were between 4 percent and 7 percent in almost two-thirds
of the reporting states (Table 2).
- White and Asian/Pacific Islander students were less likely to
drop out than were American Indian, Black, or Hispanic students.
Approximately one-third of all reporting states reported dropout
rates of 10 percent or higher for Black students in each year
from 1993–94 through 1997–98 (Table
B). Slightly less than one-half of the states had similar
dropout rates among Hispanic students in this time period.
- Students were more likely to drop out of high school in districts
that served large or mid-size cities than in rural districts for
those states reporting. When relatively low dropout rates are
examined, 1997–98 data highlight this difference. In that
year, the average high school dropout rate was less than 4 percent
in rural districts in 16 of 37 reporting states. In contrast,
none of the 21 reporting states with large city districts reported
a dropout rate of less than 4 percent in large city districts
- High school four-year completion rates were 80 percent or higher
in 20 of 33 reporting states in 1997–98 (Table
I). (This rate does not reflect those receiving a GED-based
- The average four-year completion rate was less than 60 percent
for American Indian students in 9 reporting states, Hispanic students
in 6 states, and Black students in 6 reporting states in 1997–98
(Tables 9a, J).
- In every reporting state except Alabama, Maine, and West Virginia,
the four-year completion rate of Asian students was higher than
the other minority groups in the 1997–98 school year (Table