Indicators

Status Dropout Rates
(Last Updated: April 2015)

The status dropout rate decreased from 12 percent in 1990 to 7 percent in 2013, with most of the decline occurring since 2000. From 1990 to 2013, the Hispanic status dropout rate declined from 32 percent to 12 percent, while Black and White status dropout rates decreased by 6 and 4 percentage points, respectively. Nevertheless, the Hispanic status dropout rate in 2013 (12 percent) remained higher than the White (5 percent) and Black (7 percent) status dropout rates.

The status dropout rate represents the percentage of 16- through 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 General Educational Development [GED] certificate).1 This rate is different from graduation rate measures that reflect the percentage of students earning a regular diploma within 4 years of entering high school. Status dropouts are no longer attending school (public or private) and do not have a high school level of educational attainment. Based on data from the Current Population Survey, the status dropout rate decreased from 12 percent in 1990 to 7 percent in 2013, with most of the decline occurring after 2000 (when it was 11 percent). However, there was no measurable difference between the 2012 rate and the 2013 rate.


Figure 1. Status dropout rates of 16- through 24-year-olds, by sex: 1990 through 2013

Figure 1. Status dropout rates of 16- through 24-year-olds, by sex: 1990 through 2013


NOTE: The "status dropout rate" represents the percentage of 16- through 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 General Educational Development [GED] certificate). Data are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons in prisons, persons in the military, and other persons not living in households.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 1990 through 2013. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 219.70.


Between 1990 and 2013, the male status dropout rate declined from 12 to 7 percent, with nearly the entire decline occurring after 2000 (when it was still 12 percent). For females, the rate declined from 12 percent in 1990 to 10 percent in 2000, and then decreased further to 6 percent in 2013. From 1997 through 2012, the status dropout rate was higher for males than for females, but in 2013 the rate for males was not measurably different from the rate for females.


Figure 2. Status dropout rates of 16- through 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity: 1990 through 2013

Figure 2. Status dropout rates of 16- through 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity: 1990 through 2013


NOTE: The "status dropout rate" represents the percentage of 16- through 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 General Educational Development [GED] certificate). Data are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons in prisons, persons in the military, and other persons not living in households. Data for all races include other racial/ethnic categories not separately shown. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 1990 through 2013. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 219.70.


In each year from 1990 to 2013, the status dropout rate was lower for Whites than for Blacks, and the rates for both Whites and Blacks were lower than the rate for Hispanics. During this period, the rate for Whites declined from 9 to 5 percent; the rate for Blacks declined from 13 to 7 percent; and the rate for Hispanics declined from 32 to 12 percent. As a result, the gap between Whites and Hispanics narrowed from 23 percentage points in 1990 to 7 percentage points in 2013. Most of the gap was narrowed between 2000 and 2013, during which the White-Hispanic gap declined from 21 percent to 7 percent. The rates for both Whites and Blacks declined from 1990 to 2013, but the gap between the rates in 1990 did not measurably differ from the gap between the rates in 2013. However, the White-Black gap of 2 percentage points in 2013 (when rates were 5 and 7 percent, respectively) was smaller than the White-Black gap of 6 percentage points in 2000 (when rates were 7 and 13 percent, respectively).


Figure 3. Status dropout rates of 16- through 24-year-olds, by income level: 1990 through 2013

Figure 3. Status dropout rates of 16- through 24-year-olds, by income level: 1990 through 2013


NOTE: The "status dropout rate" represents the percentage of 16- through 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 General Educational Development [GED] certificate). The "lowest" quartile represents the bottom 25 percent of family incomes. The "middle low" quartile represents families between the 25th percentile and the median (50th percentile). The "middle high" quartile represents families with incomes between the median (50th percentile) and the 75th percentile. The "highest" quartile represents the top 25 percent of all family incomes. Data are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons in prisons, persons in the military, and other persons not living in households.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 1990 through 2013. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 219.75.


The status dropout rate also declined for young adults in low- and middle-income family groups between 1990 and 2013. Status dropout rates declined from 24 to 11 percent for those in families with the lowest incomes (the bottom 25 percent of all family incomes), from 15 to 9 percent for those in "middle low" income families (families with incomes between the 25th percentile and the median), and from 9 to 5 percent for those in "middle high" income families (families with incomes between the median and the 75th percentile). For those in the highest income families (the top 25 percent of all family incomes), there was no measurable difference between the 1990 and 2013 status dropout rates (3 percent in both years). During this period, the status dropout rates for those in the highest income families were consistently lower than the rates for those in all other income groups. Conversely, the rates for those in the lowest income families were consistently higher than the rates for those in the "middle high" and "middle low" income families, with the exception of 2013 when the rates between those in the lowest income families and those in the "middle low" income families were not measurably different. While differences between those in the lowest income families and highest income families have remained, the gap in the status dropout rate between these two groups narrowed from 21 percentage points in 1990 to 8 percentage points in 2013.


Figure 4. Percentage distribution of status dropouts, by years of school completed: 1990 through 2013

Figure 4. Percentage distribution of status dropouts, by years of school completed: 1990 through 2013


NOTE: "Status dropouts" are 16- through 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 General Educational Development [GED] certificate). Data are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population, which excludes persons in prisons, persons in the military, and other persons not living in households.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 1990 through 2013. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 219.75.


The decline in the overall status dropout rate coincided with a shift in the distribution of years of school completed by status dropouts from 1990 to 2013, as fewer status dropouts completed less than 9 years of schooling while more completed 11-12 years of schooling. The percentage of status dropouts with less than 9 years of schooling decreased from 29 percent in 1990 to 18 percent in 2013. Conversely, the percentage of status dropouts who had completed 11-12 years of schooling but did not receive a diploma or GED certificate increased from 26 percent in 1990 to 47 percent in 2013.


Figure 5. Status dropout rates of 16- through 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity and sex: 2012

Figure 5. Status dropout rates of 16- through 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity and sex: American Community Survey (ACS) 2012


! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
NOTE: This figure uses a different data source than figure 2; therefore, estimates are not directly comparable to the 2012 estimates in figure 2. Noninstitutionalized group quarters include college and university housing, military quarters, facilities for workers and religious groups, and temporary shelters for the homeless. Among those counted in noninstitutionalized group quarters in the American Community Survey (ACS), only the residents of military barracks are not included in the civilian noninstitutionalized population in the Current Population Survey. The "status dropout rate" represents the percentage of 16- through 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 General Educational Development [GED] certificate). Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, American Community Survey (ACS), 2012. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 219.80.


Based on data from the American Community Survey, which includes those living in households as well as noninstitutional2 living quarters, the status dropout rate in 2012 was lower for Asians (3 percent) and Whites (5 percent) than for those of Two or more races (6 percent), Blacks (9 percent), Pacific Islanders (9 percent), American Indians/Alaska Natives (13 percent), and Hispanics (13 percent). In 2012, the male status dropout rate (8 percent) was higher than the female rate (6 percent). This pattern of higher male status dropout rates was consistent across all racial/ethnic groups except for Asians and Pacific Islanders. Hispanics (5 percentage points), American Indians/Alaska Natives (4 percentage points), and Blacks (4 percentage points) had the largest observed male-female dropout rate gaps. The dropout rates for those living in households and noninstitutionalized group quarters (7 percent) was lower than for those living in institutionalized group quarters (35 percent), such as prisons and residential health facilities.


Figure 6. Status dropout rates of 16- through 24-year-olds in the household and noninstitutionalized group quarters population, by race/ethnicity and nativity: 2012

Figure 6. Status dropout rates of 16- through 24-year-olds in the household and noninstitutionalized group quarters population, by race/ethnicity and nativity: American Community Survey (ACS) 2012


! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
NOTE: This figure uses a different data source than figure 2; therefore, estimates are not directly comparable to the 2012 estimates in figure 2. United States refers to the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Marianas. The "status dropout rate" represents the percentage of 16- through 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 General Educational Development [GED] certificate). Noninstitutionalized group quarters include college and university housing, military quarters, facilities for workers and religious groups, and temporary shelters for the homeless. Among those counted in noninstitutionalized group quarters in the American Community Survey (ACS), only the residents of military barracks are not included in the civilian noninstitutionalized population in the Current Population Survey. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, American Community Survey (ACS), 2012. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 219.80.


Differences in status dropout rates between U.S. and foreign-born 16- to 24-year-olds living in households and noninstitutionalized group quarters vary by race/ethnicity. In 2012, Hispanics, Asians, and Pacific Islanders born in the United States had lower status dropout rates than did their counterparts born outside of the United States, whereas U.S.-born Whites and Blacks had higher status dropout rates than did their foreign-born counterparts. Among all racial/ethnic groups, the largest differences in status dropout rates by nativity are observed for Hispanics (16 percent points) and Pacific Islanders (14 percentage points). Native-born Hispanics and Pacific Islanders had status dropout rates of 9 and 7 percent, respectively, and foreign-born Hispanics and Pacific Islanders had rates of 24 and 20 percent, respectively.


1 In this indicator, status dropout rates are estimated using both the Current Population Survey (CPS) and the American Community Survey (ACS). CPS data have been collected annually for decades, allowing for the analysis of detailed long term trends, or changes over time, for the civilian, noninstitutionalized population. ACS data from 2006 to 2012 cover individuals living in group quarters, including those in institutionalized and noninstitutionalized settings, and can provide detail on smaller demographic groups.
2 Noninstitutional group quarters include college and university housing, military quarters, facilities for workers and religious groups, and temporary shelters for the homeless.


Glossary terms: Dropout, GED certificate, High school diploma, High school equivalency certificate
Data Source: Current Population Survey (CPS) and American Community Survey (ACS)