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Indicator 17: High School Status Completion Rates
(Last Updated: July 2017)

From 1990 to 2015, the high school status completion rate for Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds increased from 59 to 88 percent, while the Black and White status completion rates increased from 83 to 92 percent and from 90 to 95 percent, respectively. Although the White-Hispanic and White-Black gaps in status completion rates narrowed between 1990 and 2015, the rates for Hispanic and Black individuals remained lower than the White rate in 2015.

The status completion rate measures the percentage of 18- to 24-year-old young adults living in the United States1 who hold a high school diploma or an alternative credential.2 Young adults who are still enrolled in high school or a lower level of education are excluded from the calculation of this measure. Unlike high school graduation rates, which measure the percentage of students who graduate during a specific school year, status completion rates include all individuals in a specified age range who hold a high school diploma or alternative credential, regardless of when it was attained. The high school completion rates presented in this indicator are estimated using data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), allowing for the analysis of detailed long-term trends in the civilian noninstitutionalized population.


Figure 17.1. Status completion rates of 18- to 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity: 2015

Figure 17.1. Status completion rates of 18- to 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity: 2015


NOTE: The status completion rate is the number of 18- to 24-year-olds who are high school completers as a percentage of the total number of 18- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in high school or a lower level of education. High school completers include those with a high school diploma, as well as those with an alternative credential, such as a GED certificate. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Data are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population living in the 50 states and D.C.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 2015. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 219.67.


Of the 28.2 million 18- to 24-year-old young adults who were not enrolled in high school in October 2015, approximately 26.2 million (93 percent) had earned a high school diploma or alternative credential. In 2015, the Asian status completion rate (97 percent) was higher than the White rate (95 percent), and the rates for both groups were higher than the rates for Black (92 percent), Hispanic (88 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native (82 percent) young adults. In addition, the Black status completion rate was higher than the Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native rates. The rate for young adults of Two or more races (94 percent) was higher than the rates for Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native young adults, but not measurably different from the rates for the remaining racial/ethnic groups. The Pacific Islander status completion rate was not measurably different from the rate for any group included in this analysis.


Figure 17.2. Status completion rates of 18- to 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity: 1990 through 2015

Figure 17.2. Status completion rates of 18- to 24-year-olds, by race/ethnicity: 1990 through 2015


NOTE: The status completion rate is the number of 18- to 24-year-olds who are high school completers as a percentage of the total number of 18- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in high school or a lower level of education. High school completers include those with a high school diploma, as well as those with an alternative credential, such as a GED certificate. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Data are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population living in the 50 states and D.C. Total includes other racial/ethnic groups not separately shown, including Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Two or more races.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 1990 through 2015. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 219.65.


There was no measurable change in the overall status completion rate of 18- to 24-year-old young adults between 1990 and 2000, but the rate increased from 86 percent in 2000 to 93 percent in 2015. Status completion rates for Black young adults followed a similar pattern, with no measurable change during the 1990s and an increase from 84 percent in 2000 to 92 percent in 2015. The status completion rate for Hispanic young adults was 59 percent in 1990 and rose from 64 percent in 2000 to 88 percent in 2015. The rate for White young adults increased from 90 percent in 1990 to 92 percent in 2000, and rose further to 95 percent in 2015.

As a result of these increases, the White-Hispanic gap in status completion rates of 18- to 24-year-olds narrowed from 31 percentage points in 1990 to 6 percentage points in 2015. Most of this narrowing of the gap occurred after 2000, when the gap was 28 percentage points. The White-Black gap narrowed between 1990 and 2015, following a similar pattern. There was no measurable change in the White-Black gap between 1990 and 2000, but the gap narrowed from 8 percentage points in 2000 to 3 percentage points in 2015.


Figure 17.3. Status completion rates of noninstitutionalized 18- to 24-year-olds, by nativity status and ethnicity: 2015

Figure 17.3. Status completion rates of noninstitutionalized 18- to 24-year-olds, by nativity status and ethnicity: 2015


NOTE: The status completion rate is the number of 18- to 24-year-olds who are high school completers as a percentage of the total number of 18- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in high school or a lower level of education. High school completers include those with a high school diploma, as well as those with an alternative 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. Individuals defined as "first generation" were born in the United States, but one or both of their parents were born outside the United States. Individuals defined as "second generation or higher" were born in the United States, as were both of their parents. Data are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population living in the 50 states and D.C.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 2015. See Digest of Education Statistics 2016, table 219.67.


In 2015, status completion rates also varied by nativity status.3 In 2015, the status completion rate for foreign-born Hispanic young adults was 79 percent, which was lower than the rates for their Hispanic peers who were first generation (92 percent) and second generation or higher (90 percent). Among non-Hispanics, the status completion rate for first-generation young adults (98 percent) was higher than the rate for their foreign-born (95 percent) and second-generation or higher (94 percent) non-Hispanic peers. Within each of the three nativity categories, Hispanic status completion rates were lower than the non-Hispanic rates.

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1 Includes those living in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
2 The alternative credentials counted in the status completion rate include, for example, GED certificates and credentials earned by individuals who completed their education outside of the United States.
3 The nativity categories used in this analysis are as follows: (i) foreign-born individuals; (ii) first-generation individuals (those who were born in the United States but have at least one foreign-born parent); and (iii) individuals who are second generation or higher (those who were born in the United States and whose parents were both born in the United States).