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Indicator 16: High School Status Dropout Rates
(Last Updated: July 2017)

From 1992 to 2015, the Hispanic status dropout rate decreased from 29 to 9 percent, while the Black rate decreased from 14 to 6 percent, and the White rate decreased from 8 to 5 percent. Nevertheless, the Hispanic status dropout rate in 2015 remained higher than the Black and White rates.

Status dropouts are no longer attending school (public or private) and do not have a high school level of educational attainment. The status dropout rate measures the percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds in the United States1 who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential.2 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 for recent years cover individuals living in households and noninstitutionalized group quarters (such as college or military housing), and can provide detail on smaller demographic groups.

Data from the CPS show that in 2015, approximately million 16- to 24-year-olds were not enrolled in high school and had not earned a high school diploma or an equivalency credential. These status dropouts accounted for 6 percent of the 38.5 million noninstitutionalized, civilian 16- to 24-year-olds living in the United States. The White status dropout rate (5 percent) was lower than the Black (6 percent) and Hispanic (9 percent) rates. Additionally, the Black status dropout rate was lower than the Hispanic rate.


Figure 16.1. Status dropout rates of 16- to 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity: 1992 through 2015

Figure 16.1. Status dropout rates of 16- to 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity: 1992 through 2015


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 for total include other racial/ethnic categories not separately shown. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Data are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 1992 through 2015. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 219.70.


The status dropout rate for all 16- to 24-year-olds decreased from 11 percent in 1992 to 6 percent in 2015, with most of the decline occurring after 2000 (when the rate was also 11 percent). In each year from 1992 to 2015, the status dropout rate was lower for White than for Black 16- to 24-year-olds, and the rates for both groups in each year were lower than the rate for Hispanic 16- to 24-year-olds. During this period, the rate for White individuals declined from 8 to 5 percent; the rate for Black individuals declined from 14 to 6 percent; and the rate for Hispanic individuals declined from 29 to 9 percent.

As a result of these declines, the gap in status dropout rates between White and Hispanic 16- to 24-year-olds narrowed from 22 percentage points in 1992 to 5 percentage points in 2015. Most of the change occurred between 2000 and 2015, during which time the White-Hispanic gap declined from 21 to 5 percentage points. While there was no clear trend in the White-Black gap during the 1990s, the gap narrowed from 6 percentage points in 2000 to 2 percentage points in 2015.


Figure 16.2. Status dropout rates of 16- to 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity and sex: 2014

Figure 16.2. Status dropout rates of 16- to 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity and sex: 2014


NOTE: This figure uses a different data source than figure 1 in this indicator; therefore, estimates are not directly comparable to the estimates in figure 1. 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). Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Data are based on sample surveys of persons living in households and noninstitutionalized group quarters. Noninstitutionalized group quarters include college and university housing, military quarters, facilities for workers and religious groups, and temporary shelters for the homeless. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, American Community Survey (ACS), 2014. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 219.80.


Based on data from the ACS, the status dropout rate in 2014 was lower for individuals who were Asian (3 percent), White (4 percent), and of Two or more races (5 percent) than for those individuals who were Black (7 percent), Hispanic (10 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native (11 percent). The status dropout rate for Asian 16- to 24-year-olds was also lower than that of all other racial/ethnic groups measured. The Pacific Islander rate (10 percent) was higher than the rates for individuals who were Asian, White, of Two or more races, and Black, but was not measurably different from the remaining racial/ethnic groups.

In 2014, the male status dropout rate (7 percent) was higher than the female rate (5 percent). This pattern of higher male status dropout rates was also evident for White, Black, and Hispanic 16- to 24-year-olds. For example, the gap between male and female dropout rates was 4 percentage points for Hispanic 16- to 24-year-olds and 1 percentage point for White and Black 16- to 24-year-olds.


Figure 16.3. Status dropout rates of noninstitutionalized 16- to 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity and nativity: 2014

Figure 16.3. Status dropout rates of noninstitutionalized 16- to 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity and nativity: 2014


! 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 1 in this indicator; therefore, estimates are not directly comparable to the estimates in figure 1. 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). 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. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Data are based on sample surveys of persons living in households and noninstitutionalized group quarters. Noninstitutionalized group quarters include college and university housing, military quarters, facilities for workers and religious groups, and temporary shelters for the homeless. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, American Community Survey (ACS), 2014. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 219.80.


Status dropout rates also varied between U.S.- and foreign-born 16- to 24-year-olds living in the United States. In 2014, Hispanic, Asian, and Pacific Islander 16- to 24-year-olds born in the United States3 had lower status dropout rates than did their counterparts born outside of the United States. The gap between status dropouts born in the U.S. and born outside the U.S. was 16 percentage points for Pacific Islander 16- to 24-year-olds (7 vs. 23 percent), 13 percentage points for Hispanic 16- to 24-year-olds (8 vs. 21 percent), and 2 percentage points4 for Asian 16- to 24-year-olds (2 vs. 3 percent). There were no measurable differences by nativity in the status dropout rates of 16- to 24-year-olds who were White, Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and of Two or more races.

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1 Includes those living in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
2 High school credentials include either a diploma or an equivalency credential such as a GED certificate.
3 Unlike those living in the United States, which only includes the 50 states and the District of Columbia, those born in the United States include those born in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Marianas.
4 Calculated using unrounded data.