Dropout Rates in the United States, 1996
is the ninth in a series of National Center for Education
Statistics reports on high school dropout and completion rates.
It presents data on rates in 1996, the most recent year for which
data are available, and includes time series data on high school
dropout and completion rates for the period 1972 through 1996. In
addition to extending time series data reported in earlier years,
this report examines the characteristics of high school dropouts
and high school completers in 1996.
Event Dropout Rates
dropout rates for 1996 describe the proportion of youths ages 15
through 24 years who dropped out of school in the 12 months
preceding October 1996. Demographic data collected in the Current
Population Survey (CPS) permit event dropout rates to be
calculated across a variety of individual characteristics,
including race, sex, region of residence, and income level.
- Five out of every 100 young adults enrolled in high
school in 1995 left school before October of 1996 without
successfully completing a high school program. This
estimate of 5 percent is on a par with those reported
over the last 10 years (figure A).
- A larger percentage of Hispanic students, compared with
white students, leave school short of completing a high
school program. Although the 6.7 percent rate for black
students falls between the rate of 9.0 percent for
Hispanics and 4.1 percent for whites, the differences are
not significant (table 1).
- In 1996, young adults living in families with incomes in
the lowest 20 percent of all family incomes were five
times as likely as their peers from families in the top
20 percent of the income distribution to drop out of high
school. Two-thirds of this gap was due to differences
between students in the lowest and middle income groups (table 1).
- Students who remain in school after the majority of their
age cohort has left drop out at higher rates than their
younger peers (table 2).
- Although dropout rates were highest among students age 19
or older, about three-fourths of the current year
dropouts were ages 15 through 18; moreover, 43 percent of
the 1996 dropouts were 15 through 17 years of age (table 2 ).
List of Tables