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Chapter 2. School-Related Characteristics

Indicator 15. High School Status Dropout Rates

A higher percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds who did not finish high school were unemployed and earned less than high school graduates when employed in 2009 (Aud, Fox, and KewalRamani 2010). Status dropout rates represent the percentage of civilian, noninstitutionalized 16- to 24-year-olds who are not in high school and who have not earned a high school credential. 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. In 2009, the status dropout rate for Hispanics (18 percent) was higher than the rate for Blacks (9 percent), Whites (5 percent), and Asians/Pacific Islanders (3 percent). Males ages 16 to 24 had higher status dropout rates than females overall and, specifically, among Whites and Blacks in the same age group.

 Between 1990 and 2009, the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds who were status dropouts decreased from 12 to 8 percent. The status dropout rate also decreased between 1990 and 2009 for Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics, as well as for White and Hispanic males and White, Black, and Hispanic females. (The status dropout rate for Black males decreased between 2000 and 2009.) Status dropout rates also declined between 1990 and 2009 for both males (12 to 9 percent) and females (12 to 7 percent).  Between 1990 and 2009, the gap between the status dropout rates of Hispanics and Whites narrowed, while the gap between the status dropout rates of Whites and Blacks did not measurably change over this period.

table icon View Table 15
figure icon View Figure 15

15a. Snapshot: Dropout rates for Institutionalized and Noninstitutionalized 16- to 24-year-olds

The American Community Survey allows for comparisons of status dropout rates for 16- through 24-year-olds residing in households, as well as those in noninstitutionalized and institutionalized group quarters. Institutionalized group quarters include adult and juvenile correctional facilities, nursing facilities, and other health care facilities. In 2009, the status dropout rate among 16- to 24-year-olds living in institutionalized group quarters was more than four times the rate among 16- to 24-year-olds living in noninstitutionalized households or group quarters, such as college or military housing (40 vs. 8 percent).7 In that year, institutionalized 16- to 24-year-olds had higher status dropout rates than noninstitutionalized youth and young adults in the same age group for all races and ethnicities.

Among 16- to 24-year-olds in the institutionalized population in 2009, the percentages of Hispanics and Blacks who were status dropouts (47 and 44 percent, respectively) were greater than the percentage of Whites (31 percent) who were status dropouts. While not measurably different from the rates for other races/ethnicities, approximately 45 percent of Asians and 41 percent of American Indians/Alaska Natives who lived in institutionalized group quarters were status dropouts. Among noninstitutionalized 16- to 24-year-olds in 2009, Hispanics had the highest status dropout rate (17 percent), compared with 15 percent of American Indians/Alaska Natives, 9 percent of Blacks, 9 percent of Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, 6 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds of two or more races, 5 percent of Whites, and 3 percent of Asians.8

table icon View Table 15a
figure icon View Figure 15a

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7 Institutionalized group quarters include adult and juvenile correctional facilities, nursing facilities, and other health care facilities. Noninstitutionalized group quarters include college and university housing, military quarters, facilities for workers and religious groups, and temporary shelters for the homeless.
8 This snapshot uses a different data source than table 15; therefore, total status dropout rate estimates are not directly comparable to the 2009 estimates in table 15.

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