This report provides the most recent year of data available for each dropout and completion rate, summarizes long-term trends, and examines the characteristics of high school dropouts and completers. Five rates are presented to provide a broad perspective on high school dropouts and completers in the United States: the event dropout rate, the status dropout rate, the status completion rate, the adjusted cohort graduation rate, and the averaged freshman graduation rate.
The following selected findings are drawn from each section of the report.
Indicator 1: Current Population Survey (CPS) Event Dropout Rate
- Between October 2016 and October 2017, the number of 15- to 24-year-olds who left school without obtaining a high school credential was approximately 523,000. These event dropouts accounted for 4.7 percent of the 11.1 million youth enrolled in grades 10 through 12 in 2016 (figure 1.1 and table 1.1).
- In 2017, the event dropout rate for Hispanic 15- to 24-year-olds was higher than the rate for White 15- to 24-year-olds (6.5 percent vs. 3.9 percent), but not measurably different from the rate for 15- to 24-year-olds who were Black (5.5 percent), Asian (4.7 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native (4.4 percent; figure 1.1 and table 1.1). There were no measurable differences in event dropout rates between 15- to 24-year-olds who were Black, Asian, American Indian/Alaska Native, and White.1
Indicator 2: American Community Survey (ACS) and Current Population Survey (CPS) Status Dropout Rate
- 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. In 2017, the ACS status dropout rate for all 16- to 24-year olds was 5.4 percent (figure 2.1 and table 2.1).
- Based on data from ACS, the 2013–2017 5-year-average status dropout rate2 for Hispanic 1 Reliable estimates were not available for 15- to 24-year-olds who were Pacific Islander or of Two or more races in 2017. 2 This estimate is derived from a sample collected over a period of 5 years (from 2013 to 2017). The use of a 5-year average increases the sample size, thereby reducing the size of sampling errors and producing more stable estimates. 16- to 24-year-olds was 9.9 percent, while status dropout rates by Hispanic subgroup ranged from 1.5 percent for individuals of Bolivian descent to 24.5 percent for individuals of Guatemalan descent (figure 2.4 and table 2.2).
- The 2013–2017 average status dropout rate for Asian 16- to 24-year-olds was 2.3 percent, while status dropout rates by Asian subgroup ranged from 1.1 percent for individuals of Korean descent to 23.2 percent for individuals of Burmese descent (figure 2.5 and table 2.2).
- Based on CPS data, status dropout rates have trended downward over the past 40 years, declining from 14.1 percent in 19773 to 5.8 percent in 2017 (figure 2.8 and table 2.4) During the most recent 10-year period of available data (2007 to 2017), the status dropout rate decreased from 8.7 percent to 5.8 percent.
Indicator 3: Current Population Survey (CPS) Status Completion Rate
- The status completion rate is the percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds who have left high school and who hold a high school credential.4 For the first time in 40 years,5 the status completion rate for Black 18- to 24-year-olds was not measurably different from that of White 18- to 24-year-olds (table 3.2). From 1977 to 2016, the status completion rate for White 18- to 24-year-olds was consistently higher than the rate for Black 18- to 24-year-olds.
- Among Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds, the status completion rate for those who were foreign born was 78.1 percent, which was lower than the rates for those who were first generation (91.7 percent) and those who were second generation or higher (90.8 percent; figure 3.4 and table 3.1). The status completion rate for first-generation Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds was not measurably different from the rate for Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds who were second generation or higher.
Indicator 4: Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR)
- The adjusted cohort graduation rate provides information about the percentage of U.S. public high school students who graduate on time (i.e., 4 years after starting 9th grade for the first time) with a regular diploma.6 The U.S. average ACGR for public high school students increased over the first 7 years it was collected, from 79 percent in 2010–11 to 85 percent in 2016–17 (table 4.1).
- In 2016–17, the ACGR ranged from 71 percent in New Mexico to 91 percent in Iowa. More than three-quarters of states (40) reported ACGRs that were 80 percent or higher and less than 90 percent (table 4.1).7
- In 2016–17, the ACGRs for American Indian/ Alaska Native (72 percent),8 Black (78 percent), and Hispanic (80 percent) public high school students were below the U.S. average of 85 percent. The ACGRs for White students (89 percent) and Asian/Pacific Islander students (91 percent)9 were above the U.S. average ACGR (figure 4.2 and table 4.1).
- In 2016–17, the U.S. average ACGRs for economically disadvantaged students (78 percent), limited-English-proficient students (66 percent), and students with disabilities (67 percent) were lower than the U.S. average ACGR of 85 percent (table 4.1).10
Indicator 5: Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR)
- The national averaged freshman graduation rate, an estimated 4-year graduation rate calculated using aggregated enrollment and diploma counts, was 82 percent in 2012–13, the most recent year for which data are available (figure 5.1 and table 5.1).11
- In 2012–13, the AFGR across states ranged from 68 percent in Nevada and Mississippi to 93 percent in Nebraska and Wisconsin (table 5.1).
1 Reliable estimates were not available for 15- to 24-year-olds who were Pacific
Islander or of Two or more races in 2017.
2 This estimate is derived from a sample collected over a period of 5 years
(from 2013 to 2017). The use of a 5-year average increases the sample size, thereby reducing the size of sampling errors and producing more stable estimates.
3 Because of changes in data collection procedures, use caution when comparing data for 1992 and later years to earlier data. For more information on the data collection changes, see Kaufman, Alt, and Chapman (2004).
4 A high school diploma or an alternative credential, such as a GED.
5 Because of changes in data collection procedures, use caution when comparing data for 1992 and later years to earlier data. For more information on the data collection changes, see Kaufman, Alt, and Chapman (2004).
6 Those students who were awarded an alternate credential, such as a GED, are
not included as graduates in the ACGR calculations.
7 Based on unrounded graduation rates.
8 The U.S. average ACGRs for American Indian/Alaska Native include estimated data for Alabama, since the state did not report ACGR rates to the U.S. Department of Education for this subgroup. Estimated data for Alabama were based on data published on the Alabama State Education Agency website.
9 Reporting practices for data on Asian and Pacific Islander students vary by state. Asian/Pacific Islander data in this indicator represent either the value reported by the state for the “Asian/Pacific Islander” group or an aggregation of separate values reported by the state for “Asian” and “Pacific Islander.” “Pacific Islander” includes the “Filipino” group, which only California reports separately..
10 The U.S. average ACGRs for students with disabilities, limited-Englishproficient students, and economically disadvantaged students include estimated data for Alabama, since the state did not report ACGR rates to the U.S. Department of Education for these subgroups. Estimated data for Alabama were based on data published on the Alabama State Education Agency website..
11 The AFGR is available for school years 1969–70 through 2012–13. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 219.10.