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Status of Education in Rural America
NCES 2007-040
June 2007

2.4. High school status dropouts


The high school status dropout rate among 16- to 24-year-olds in rural areas in 2004 was higher than in suburban areas, but lower than in cities.

This indicator examines the high school status dropout rate of 16- to 24-year-olds. The high school status dropout rate is defined as the percentage of individuals who are not enrolled in high school and have not earned a high school credential (either a diploma or an equivalency credential such as a General Educational Development [GED] certificate).1 In 2004, some 11 percent of all 16- to 24-year-olds nationally were high school status dropouts (table 2.4). The status dropout rate in rural areas (11 percent) was higher than in suburban areas (9 percent), but lower than in cities (13 percent). No measurable difference was detected between the status dropout rate in rural areas and towns.

In each locale, the high school status dropout rate among 16- to 24-year-olds living below the poverty threshold (16–23 percent) was greater than among those living above 185 percent of the poverty threshold (6–9 percent) (figure 2.4a) (for a comparison of poverty definitions see appendix B). In addition, in rural and suburban areas, the high school status dropout rate in this age group was greater among those living in poverty (23 and 18 percent, respectively) than among those living between 100 and 185 percent of the poverty threshold (17 and 15 percent, respectively). Among those living in poverty, a larger percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds in rural areas were status dropouts (23 percent) than in towns (16 percent), cities (18 percent), and suburban areas (18 percent). In contrast, among those living above 185 percent of the poverty threshold, the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds in rural areas who were status dropouts (7 percent) was smaller than in cities (9 percent) and towns (8 percent), but still larger than in suburban areas (6 percent).

The status dropout rate for 16- to 24-year-olds showed considerable variations across racial/ethnic groups. Nationally, 8 percent of Whites, 12 percent of Blacks, 24 percent of Hispanics, 4 percent of Asians, and 17 percent of American Indian/Alaska Natives were high school status dropouts in 2004 (figure 2.4b and table A-2.4).

A higher percentage of White 16- to 24-year-olds in rural areas were status dropouts (10 percent) than in suburban areas (6 percent), cities (7 percent), and towns (9 percent). For Black 16- to 24-year-olds, the status dropout rate in rural areas (14 percent) was higher than in suburban areas (9 percent), but was not measurably different from that in cities and towns. No measurable differences were found between the status dropout rate for Hispanic 16- to 24-year-olds in rural areas and in the other locales.


1 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. For a comparison of measures of poverty definitions and education attainment, see appendix B.

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