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Selected Findings: School Year 2008–091

  • Across the United States, the 50 states and the District of Columbia reported that a total of 3,039,015 public school students received a high school diploma in 2008–09, resulting in a calculated Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR) of 75.5 percent (table 1).2 This rate ranged from 56.3 percent in Nevada and 62.0 percent in Mississippi to 89.6 percent in Vermont and 90.7 percent in Wisconsin. The median state AFGR was 77.0 percent.
  • Across all reporting states and the District of Columbia, the AFGR was highest for Asian/Pacific Islander students (91.8 percent) (table 2). The rates for other groups were 82.0 percent for White students, 65.9 percent for Hispanic students, 64.8 percent for American Indian/Alaska Native students, and 63.5 percent for Black students.3
  • A comparison of data from 2008–09 to data from the prior school year, 2007–08, shows a percentage point or greater increase in the AFGR for 22 states and the District of Columbia (table 3). 4,5 The AFGR decreased by a percentage point or more for nine states during that same time period.
  • Across the United States, the 50 states and the District of Columbia reported 607,789 dropouts from high school (grades 9–12), resulting in a calculated overall event dropout rate of 4.1 percent in 2008–09 (table 4). Wyoming and Alabama had the lowest event dropout rates at 1.1 and 1.5 percent, respectively, while Arizona and Illinois had the highest at 8.3 and 11.5 percent, respectively. The median state dropout rate was 3.4 percent.
  • Across all reporting states and the District of Columbia, the calculated dropout rates increased as grade level increased (table 5). This pattern was also true for 24 states. The lowest dropout rate was for grade 9 (3.2 percent for reporting states) while the highest grade-level dropout rate was for grade 12 (6.0 percent).
  • Across all 49 states and the District of Columbia that were able to report high school dropouts by race/ethnicity, the calculated dropout rate was the lowest for Asian/Pacific Islander students at 2.4 percent and White students at 2.7 percent (table 6).6  The dropout rates for Hispanic, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Black students were 6.0, 6.3, and 6.6 percent respectively.3, 4 
  • Comparisons between high school dropout rates in the 2007–08 and 2008–09 school years showed an increase of a percentage point or more in two states and the District of Columbia.4,5,7 A decrease by the same margin or greater was found in three states (table 7).
  • Across the 45 states and the District of Columbia that were able to report high school dropouts by gender, the dropout rate was higher for males than for females at 3.6 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively (table 8).8  The dropout rate was higher among males in every state. The male-female gap ranged from lows of 0.2 percentage points in both North Dakota and South Dakota4  to highs of 2.7 in Louisiana and 2.9 percentage points in Illinois.

1 Because the findings are based on universe survey data, no statistical tests were conducted. All rates (i.e., Averaged Freshman Graduation Rates (AFGR) and event dropout rates) are calculated based on counts of diploma recipients, dropouts, and student enrollments reported by state education agencies. Diploma and dropout counts for California and Nevada were imputed based on prior year reporting.
2 The rate excludes 1,169 diplomas awarded in Maine to students attending private schools that receive the majority of their funding from public sources.
3 The rate for American Indians/Alaska Natives excludes students served in schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Education. Race categories exclude Hispanic origin.
4 Calculations based on unrounded estimates.
5 Comparisons were restricted to states that reported data for both comparison years.
6 Vermont’s dropout data by race/ethnicity were suppressed because of the extent of missing data.
7 Caution should be taken when interpreting these data. Changes in the dropout data may reflect a real change or they could reflect an increased ability to identify students who dropped out.
8 California, Maryland, and Utah did not report gender for dropouts. Vermont’s district-level dropout data were suppressed because of missing data.


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