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Dropout rates

What are the dropout rates of high school students?


The status dropout rate represents the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential (either a diploma or an equivalency credential such as a GED certificate). In this Fast Fact, status dropout rates are based on data from the American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is an annual survey that covers a broad population, including individuals living in households as well as individuals living in noninstitutionalized group quarters (such as college or military housing) and institutionalized group quarters (such as correctional or health care facilities).1 In 2019, there were 2.0 million status dropouts between the ages of 16 and 24, and the overall status dropout rate was 5.1 percent.

The status dropout rate varied by race/ethnicity in 2019. The status dropout rate for Asian 16- to 24-year-olds (1.8 percent) was lower than those who were White (4.1 percent), and both were lower than the rates for those who were of Two or more races (5.1 percent), Black (5.6 percent), Hispanic (7.7 percent), Pacific Islander (8.0 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native (9.6 percent). The status dropout rate for those who were American Indian/Alaska Native was higher than that of most racial/ethnic groups but was not measurably different from the rates for those who were Pacific Islander.

The overall status dropout rate decreased from 8.3 percent in 2010 to 5.1 percent in 2019. During this time, the status dropout rate declined for 16- to 24-year-olds who were Hispanic (from 16.7 to 7.7 percent), American Indian/Alaska Native (from 15.4 to 9.6 percent), Black (from 10.3 to 5.6 percent), White (from 5.3 to 4.1 percent), Asian (from 2.8 to 1.8 percent), and of Two or more races (from 6.1 to 5.1 percent). In contrast, there was no measurable difference between the status dropout rate in 2010 and 2019 for those who were Pacific Islander.

In 2019, the status dropout rate was higher for male 16- to 24-year-olds than for female 16- to 24-year-olds overall (6.0 vs. 4.2 percent). Status dropout rates were higher for males than for females among those who were Hispanic (9.3 vs. 6.0 percent), Black (6.8 vs. 4.3 percent), of Two or more races (6.2 vs. 4.1 percent), and White (4.7 vs. 3.5 percent). However, there were no measurable differences in status dropout rates between males and females for those who were Asian, Pacific Islander or American Indian/Alaska Native.

Status dropout rates of 16- to 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity: 2010 through 2019

The data in this figure is described in the surrounding text.

1 Includes respondents who wrote in some other race that was not included as an option on the questionnaire.

NOTE: The status dropout rate is the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential (either a diploma or an equivalency credential such as a GED certificate). Data are based on sample surveys of the entire population residing within the United States, including both noninstitutionalized persons (e.g., those living in households, college housing, or military housing located within the United States) and institutionalized persons (e.g., those living in prisons, nursing facilities, or other healthcare facilities). Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.

1 More specifically, 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.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2021). The Condition of Education 2021 (NCES 2021-144), Status Dropout Rates.

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