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Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States

Appendix C: Glossary

For definitions of dropout and completion rate estimates, please see the discussions above and table A.

General Terms

Geographic regions. There are four Census regions used in this report: Northeast, Midwest, South, and West. The Northeast consists of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The Midwest consists of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. The South consists of Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas. The West consists of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Specific Terms Used in Various Surveys

American Community Survey (ACS)

Institutionalized population. Includes individuals living in institutionalized group quarters, such as adult and juvenile correctional facilities, nursing facilities, and other health care facilities.

Noninstitutionalized population. Includes individuals living in households and noninstitutionalized group quarters, such as college and university housing, military quarters, facilities for workers and religious groups, and temporary shelters for the homeless.

Race/ethnicity. This variable is constructed from two variables in the ACS. One asks about the personís ethnic background, and the other asks about the personís race. Those who reported being of Hispanic background on the ethnic background question are categorized as Hispanic, irrespective of race. Non-Hispanic persons are then categorized by race.

Current Population Survey (CPS)

Disability. Individuals are identified as having a disability if they were reported to have difficulty with at least one of the following: hearing, seeing even when wearing glasses, walking or climbing stairs, dressing or bathing, doing errands alone, concentrating, remembering, or making decisions.

Family income. Family income is derived from a single question asked of the household respondent. Income includes money income from all sources, including jobs, business, interest, rent, and social security payments. The income of nonrelatives living in the household is excluded, but the income of all family members 14 years old and older, including those temporarily living away, is included. Family income refers to receipts over a 12-month period.

Group quarters. This is a place where individuals live or stay that provides services for its occupants, such as medical care, custodial assistance, and additional assistance. Group quarters include, but are not limited to, college residence halls, residential treatment centers, skilled nursing facilities, group homes, military barracks, correctional facilities, and workersí dormitories (Census Bureau 2010).

There are several issues that affect the interpretation of dropout rates by family income using the CPS. First, it is possible that the family income of the students at the time they dropped out was somewhat different from their family income at the time of the CPS interview. Furthermore, family income is derived from a single question asked of the household respondent in the October CPS. In some cases, there are persons ages 15Ė24 living in the household who are unrelated to the household respondent, yet whose family income is defined as the income of the family of the household respondent. Therefore, the current family income of the respondent may not accurately reflect that personís family background. In particular, some of the young adults in the 15- through 24-year-old age range do not live in a family unit with a parent present.

Race/ethnicity. This variable is constructed from two variables in the CPS. One asks about the personís ethnic background, and the other asks about the personís race. Those who reported being of Hispanic background on the ethnic background question are categorized as Hispanic, irrespective of race. Non-Hispanic persons are then categorized by race. Beginning in 2003, respondents were able to indicate that they were of Two or more races. Those who indicated that they were of Two or more races and who did not indicate that they were Hispanic are categorized as “Two or more races, non-Hispanic.”

Recency of immigration. Recency of immigration was derived from a set of questions on the CPS survey inquiring about the country of birth of the reference person and his or her mother and father. From these questions, the following three categories were constructed: (1) born outside the 50 states and the District of Columbia, (2) first generation, and (3) second generation or higher. “First generation” is defined as individuals who were born in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia, but who had at least one parent who was not. “Second generation or higher” refers to individuals who themselves, as well as both of their parents, were born in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia. These three categories were subdivided using the variable for the subjectís race/ethnicity (see below), so that there were six categories: the three immigration categories plus a Hispanic and non-Hispanic category for each of the three immigration categories.

EDFacts

Economically disadvantaged. Students who meet their state’s definition of economically disadvantaged status.

Limited English proficient. Refers to an individual who was not born in the United States and whose native language is a language other than English, or who comes from an environment where a language other than English has had a significant impact on the individual’s level of English language proficiency. It may also refer to an individual who is migratory, whose native language is a language other than English, and who comes from an environment where a language other than English is dominant; and whose difficulties in speaking, reading, writing, or understanding the English language may be sufficient to deny the individual the ability to meet the state’s proficient level of achievement on state assessments as specified under the No Child Left Behind Act, the ability to successfully achieve in classrooms where the language of instruction is English, or the opportunity to participate fully in society.

Students with disabilities. Those children evaluated as having autism; deaf-blindness; developmental delay; emotional disturbance; hearing impairment; intellectual disability; multiple disabilities; orthopedic impairment; other health impairment; specific learning disability; speech or language impairment; traumatic brain injury; and/or visual impairment; and who, by reason thereof, receive special education and related services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act according to an Individualized Education Program, Individualized Family Service Plan, or a services plan. There are local variations in the determination of disability conditions, and not all states use all reporting categories.

General Educational Development (GED) Tests

GED, or General Educational Development. GED tests are standardized tests designed to measure the skills and knowledge that students normally acquire by the end of high school. The tests are developed by the American Council on Educationís GED Testing Service. People who pass may receive an alternative high school credential.

High School Equivalency Test (HiSET)

HiSET, or High School Equivalency Test. HiSET is a standardized test designed to measure the skills and knowledge that students normally acquire by the end of high school. The test is codeveloped by the Educational Testing Service and Iowa Testing Programs. People who pass may receive an alternative high school credential.

Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC)

Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC). TASC is a standardized test designed to measure the skills and knowledge that students normally acquire by the end of high school. The TASC program was developed by Data Recognition Corporation. People who pass may receive an alternative high school credential.

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