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Public High School Dropouts and Completers from the Common Core of Data: School Years 1991-92 through 1997-98

Home
  Introductory Material
Section A
  Introduction
Section B
   1997–98 Dropouts and Completers
Section C
   Dropouts: Changes Over Time by Selected Characteristics
Section D
   High School Completers: Trends and Selected Characteristics
Section E
   Basic Tables
Section F
   Technical/Methodological Issues
Appendix
   Additional Tables
 
PDF File (1,026 KB)

Contact:
Lee Hoffman


Section D. High School Completers: Trends and Selected Characteristics

  1. High School Completions Over Time
  2. High School Completions by Race/Ethnicity
  3. High School Completions by School District Locale

The number of high school completers has been collected on the CCD since the 1987–88 school year collection. However, the high school completions are presented as a rate for the first time in this report. The four-year completion rate requires 4 years of dropout and 1 year of completion data. This is not available for all states and therefore not all states will have four-year completion rates presented. The 1991–92 school year was the first year for which dropouts were reported in the CCD, and 1994–95 is the first year for which high school four-year completion rates could be calculated.

I. High School Completions Over Time

Table 8 presents the number of high school completers over time (including diplomas and other high school completers, but excluding high school equivalencies). It is important to note that states have different policies in regard to awarding high school diplomas versus other high school credentials. Caution should be used when comparing across states.

There were approximately 2.5 million public high school completers in the 1997–98 school year, an increase from the 2.2 million in the 1991–92 school year. California had over one-quarter of a million completers (282,536), or 11 percent of all 1997–98 completers. In the 1997–98 school year, California had over 85,000 more completers than the second highest state, Texas (197,184).

Diploma recipients (not including other high school credentials or high school equivalencies) made up about 99 percent of completers in the 1995–96 through 1997–98 school years (tables 9a–c). Not all states issue a completion credential other than the diploma. In the 1997–98 school year, Oregon had the highest percentage of students receiving a completion other than a diploma at 9.8 percent. In 1997–98, there were only six states in which more than 7 percent of completers left school with a credential other than a diploma: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Oregon, and Tennessee.

Table H.—Number of high school completers, by type of completion: School years 1995–96 and 1997–98
School year Total Diploma recipients Other hgh school completers
Number Percent Number Percent
1995–96
2,313,049 2,290,504 99.0 22,545 1.0
1996–97
2,381,347 2,353,821 98.8 27,526 1.2
1997–98
2,475,938 2,443,283 98.7 32,655 1.3
 
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data, "Local Education Agency Universe Dropout File: School Year 1997–98," and "Local Education Agency Universe Dropout Data and Completion File: School Years 1991–92 through 1996–97."

This report includes four-year completion rates for 33 states in the 1997–98 school year (table 10). The four-year completion rates of these 33 states range from 60.4 in Louisiana to 89.8 in Wisconsin. Because 4 years of data are needed for the four-year completion rate, rates for all years 1994–95 through 1997–98 could be computed for only 10 states (table 2 presents available dropout data for states by year). Six of the states' four-year completion rates went up between 1994–95 and 1997–98 and four went down. The changes were relatively small: limited to less than 1 percent in all states but Arizona and Missouri (increase) and Mississippi and Nebraska (decrease). When comparing the 32 states that had four-year completion rates in both 1996–97 and 1997–98, 7 states had an increase in their four-year completion rates of more than 1 percentage point (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Missouri, and Tennessee.) One state, Utah, saw a drop in its high school four-year completion rates of more than 1 percentage point.

Table I.—Number of states with high school four-year completion rates of less than 65 percent or 80 percent or more, by race/ethnicity: School years 1994–95 and 1997–98
School year Less than 65 percent More than 80 percent
1994–95 (12)
3
5
1995–96 (14)
2
8
1996–97 (32)
3
17
1997–98 (33)
2
20
 
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data, "Local Education Agency Universe Survey Dropout Data and Completion File: School Years 1991–92 through 1996–97," and "Local Education Agency Universe Dropout File: School Year 1997–98."

II. High School Completions by Race/Ethnicity

Four-year completion rates by race/ethnicity can be presented for 28 states in the 1997–98 school year (tables 12a). Caution should be used when interpreting results by race/ethnicity as some of the racial/ethnic group populations are quite small in some states. To see the percentage of individuals in each racial/ethnic group in the state see tables A-7a–d. 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 (table 12a). (Since only 13 states have four-year completion rates by race/ethnicity in 1995–96, comparisons by race/ethnicity will be limited to 1996–97 and 1997–98 presented in tables 12a–b.)

Table J.—Number of states with high school four-year completion rates of less than 60 percent or 80 percent or more, by race/ethnicity: School years 1996–97 and 1997–98
Race/ethnicity Less than 60 percent 80 percent or more
1996–97 (29) 1997–98 (28) 1996–97 (29) 1997–98 (28)
American Indian/Alaska Native
10 9 3 3
Asian/Pacific Islander
0 0 21 23
Hispanic
10 6 3 2
Black
10 6 1 1
White
0 0 20 20
 
NOTE: The number of states reporting dropout and completion rate data needed to calculate the completion rate by race/ethnicity each year appear in the parentheses after the year.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data, "Local Education Agency Universe Dropout File: School Year 1997–98," and "Local Education Agency Universe Dropout Data and Completion File: School Years 1991–92 through 1996–97."

American Indian/Alaska Native students. More reporting states had high school four-year completion rates below 60 percent for American Indian student than for any other group in both years. In fact, three reporting states, Mississippi, Nebraska, and South Dakota, had American Indian four-year completion rates of less than 50 percent for both 1996–97 and 1997–98.

Asian/Pacific Islander students. Over 70 percent of reporting states had high school four-year completion rates of 80 percent or more for Asian/Pacific Islander students, and no state reported less than a 60 percent four-year completion rate for this group. In 1996–97 and 1997–98, three states (Delaware, Maryland, and West Virginia) had a four-year completion rate of 90 percent or higher among Asian students.

Black, non-Hispanic students. In the 1996–97 school year, 10 out of 29 reporting states had Black four-year completion rates less than of 60 percent. This number decreased to 6 out of 28 reporting states in 1997–98. One state reported a four-year completion rate of 80 percent or higher among Black students in either year: North Dakota in 1996–97 and Maine in 1997–98.

The four-year completion rates for White students were higher than the four-year completion rates for Black students for all reporting states in both 1996–97 and 1997–98. Among those states for which high school completer data were available for both 1996–97 and 1997–98, Wisconsin had the largest percentage point difference between Black and White four-year completion rates with White four-year completion rates above 93 percent in both years and Black rates at 50.0 and 54.8 percent respectively.

Hispanic students. Hispanic students in West Virginia had more than a 90 percent high school four-year completion rate in both 1996–97 and 1997–98. The four-year completion rate for Hispanic students in reporting states was below 50 percent for only one state in 1997–98 and two states in 1996–97. Unlike the four-year completion rate for Black students, there are a few cases in which the Hispanic four-year completion rate is higher than the four-year completion rate for White students. These exceptions were West Virginia in both years and Maine in 1997–98.

White students. In both the 1996–97 and 1997–98 school years, the White four-year completion rate was 80 percent or more in 20 of the reporting states. In two states, North Dakota and Wisconsin, the White four-year completion rate was over 90 percent in both years. Louisiana had the lowest White four-year completion rate in both years.

III. High School Completions by School District Locale

One characteristic that can help define districts is the district's locale. Locale is the measure of the school district's "urbanicity" (for example, whether a district is in a rural area or an urban area).

As is evident from table K, large city school districts, in reporting states, are more likely than others to have a relatively low high school four-year completion rate of less than 60 percent. In both 1996–97 and 1997–98, no large city school districts in the reporting states had four-year completion rates of 80 percent or more. The urban fringes of large cities fared much better. The urban fringe locales in about half the reported states had a four-year completion rate of 80 percent or more.

Table K.—Number of states with high school four-year completion rates of less than 60 percent or 80 percent or more, by district locale: School years 1996–97 and 1997–98
Locale Less than 60 percent 80 percent or more
1996–97 (32) 1997–98 (33) 1996–97 (32) 1997–98 (33)
Large city
4 7 0 0
Mid-size city
5 1 8 10
Urban fringe of a large city
1 0 11 16
Urban fringe of a mid-size city
0 0 16 22
Large town
1 0 9 11
Small town
1 1 13 17
Rural
0 0 23 25
 
NOTE: The number of states reporting dropout and completion rate data needed to calculate the completion rate by district locale each year appear in the parentheses after the year.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data, "Local Education Agency Universe Dropout File: School Year 1997–98," and "Local Education Agency Universe Dropout Data and Completion File: School Years 1991–92 through 1996–97."

Tables 13a–c presents high school four-year completion rates by district locale. Four-year completion rates of 80 percent or higher were more likely to occur in rural school districts in reporting states than any other district locale. In fact, about three-fourths of the reported states had a four-year completion rate of 80 percent or more in their rural school districts: 23 out of 32 in 1996–97 and 25 out of 33 in 1997–98.

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