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Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities
NCES 2007-039
September 2007

Indicator 17: Dropouts

Adults who do not complete high school have higher unemployment rates and lower annual earnings than their peers who are high school completers (U.S. Department of Education 2005, indicator 19; U.S. Department of Commerce 2004, tables 215 and 608). This indicator examines the status dropout rate for 16- to 24-year-olds, which is the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential.26 Between 1989 and 2005, the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds who were status dropouts decreased from 13 to 9 percent.

High school status dropout rates varied across racial/ethnic groups. In 1989, a higher percentage of Hispanic students were status dropouts (33 percent) than were their Black (14 percent), White (9 percent), and Asian/Pacific Islander (8 percent) counterparts. The percentages of Blacks and American Indians/Alaska Natives (22 percent) who were status dropouts were also higher than the percentages of Whites and Asians/Pacific Islanders. In 2005, this same pattern was evident: Hispanics had a higher percentage of status dropouts (22 percent) than did Blacks (10 percent), Whites (6 percent), and Asians/Pacific Islanders (3 percent), while the percentages of Blacks and American Indians/Alaska Natives (14 percent) were higher than those for Whites and Asians/Pacific Islanders. In addition, in 2005, the percentage of White 16- to 24-year-olds who were status dropouts was higher than the percentage of Asians/Pacific Islanders.

View Table View Table 17a
View Table View Figure 17

Snapshot of Hispanic and Asian Subgroups: Dropouts by Nativity

In 2005, the percentage of foreign-born 16- to 24-year-olds who were high school status dropouts was twice the percentage of those born in the United States who were status dropouts. For Hispanics of the same age group, the percentage of status dropouts among those who were foreign born (38 percent) was more than twice that of their native counterparts (13 percent). In contrast, native Black 16- to 24-year-olds were more likely to be status dropouts than were their foreign-born counterparts. No measurable differences were found between native and foreign-born Whites and native and foreign-born Asians, respectively.

Among Hispanic subgroups, Central Americans (33 percent) and Mexicans (25 percent) in the United States had the highest percentage of young adults who were status dropouts, followed by Puerto Ricans (17 percent), Dominicans (14 percent), and Other Hispanics or Latinos (for example, those who identified themselves as Cubans or Spaniards) (11 percent). South Americans had a lower percentage of young adults who were status dropouts (9 percent) than any other Hispanic subgroup, except for Other Hispanics or Latinos. Among Mexicans, Central Americans, South Americans, and Other Hispanics or Latinos, the status dropout rate was higher for young adults who were foreign born than for those who were born in the United States.

Young adults in the "other Asian" subgroup (including Cambodian, Hmong, and other groups) had a higher status dropout rate (7 percent) than did Indian (3 percent), Chinese (2 percent), Filipino (3 percent), Japanese (2 percent), Korean (2 percent), and Vietnamese young adults (2 percent). Chinese young adults who were foreign born had higher status dropout rates than did those of the same subgroups who were U.S. natives.

View Table View Table 17b


26 The status dropout rate includes all dropouts regardless of when they last attended school, as well as individuals who may have never attended school in the United States, such as immigrants who did not complete a high school diploma in their home country. Military and institutionalized persons, including those incarcerated, are excluded.

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National Center for Education Statistics -
U.S. Department of Education