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Public High School Dropouts and Completers from the Common Core of Data: School Years 1991-92 through 1997-98

  Introductory Material
Section A
Section B
   1997–98 Dropouts and Completers
Section C
   Dropouts: Changes Over Time by Selected Characteristics
Section D
   High School Completers: Trends and Selected Characteristics
Section E
   Basic Tables
Section F
   Technical/Methodological Issues
   Additional Tables
PDF File (1,026 KB)

Lee Hoffman

Home. Introductory Material
  1. Acknowledgements
  2. Executive Summary
  3. List of All Tables


Thanks are due to Yanfen Mu and Mark Glander of Pinkerton Computer Consultants for the creation of the tables and to Susan Baldridge, who created the figures and formatted the report. Special appreciation goes to Mike Planty and Leslie Scott from Educational Statistical Services Institute, who provided data and editorial support for this report. Thank you also to the Census Bureau staff that collect the CCD data for us, in this effort and for their continual support.

The authors gratefully acknowledge the comments and suggestions of the reviewers. Reviewers from outside the Department of Education include: Tom Ogle, Missouri Department of Education; David Smith, Nevada Department of Education; Myrna Holgate, Idaho Department of Education; and Phil Kaufman, MPR Associates. Reviewers from the Department of Education include: Judy Holt, Office of Special Education Programs; Michael Jones, Office of Vocational and Adult Education; Mary Schifferli, Office for Civil Rights; and the Budget Service Office. Thanks to Chris Chapman, Paula Knepper, Marilyn Seastrom, and John Wirt all from NCES, for their very thorough reviews.

The data in this report would not be possible if not for the hard work of the state CCD Coordinators; a special "thank you" for sending in this data so we might share it with others.

Executive Summary


The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) began collecting the counts of public school dropouts through the Common Core of Data (CCD) with the 1991–92 school year. A dropout was defined, in simplified terms, as an individual who had been enrolled at any time during the previous school year, was not enrolled at the beginning of the current school year, and had not graduated or transferred to another public or private school.

The CCD is a voluntary collection, and dropout statistics are published for only those states whose dropout counts conform to the CCD definition. Dropout data were reported for 12 states for 1991–92. By 1997–98, this number had increased to 37.

Since 1993, the CCD dropout statistics have been reported in NCES' annual publication Dropout Rates in the United States in conjunction with statistics from the Current Population Survey (CPS). The current report focuses solely on CCD data and introduces a high school four-year completion rate based upon dropout and completion statistics. The four-year completion rate is the proportion of students who leave school from the 9th through 12th grades who do so as completers. It is relatively unaffected by net enrollment loss or gain due to population changes or by double-counting students who are retained in a grade during the high school years. Unlike the high school completion rate reported from the CPS, which is based on all 18- to 24-year-olds, the CCD four-year completion rate is limited to public school data from grades 9 through 12 over 4 years. The CCD rate thus excludes some persons reported through the CPS who completed high school or who received a GED-based equivalency credential in their twenties, as well as those who graduated from nonpublic schools. It should be stressed that this report does not include all states; the statistics are valid for those states reporting but may not be nationally representative.

Major Findings

Some of the major findings from the analysis of public high school dropout and four-year completion rate data are the following:

  • Between 1993–94 and 1997–98 (years in which the numbers of reporting states were similar), the high school dropout rates were between 4 percent and 7 percent in almost two-thirds of the reporting states (Table 2).
  • White and Asian/Pacific Islander students were less likely to drop out than were American Indian, Black, or Hispanic students. Approximately one-third of all reporting states reported dropout rates of 10 percent or higher for Black students in each year from 1993–94 through 1997–98 (Table B). Slightly less than one-half of the states had similar dropout rates among Hispanic students in this time period.
  • Students were more likely to drop out of high school in districts that served large or mid-size cities than in rural districts for those states reporting. When relatively low dropout rates are examined, 1997–98 data highlight this difference. In that year, the average high school dropout rate was less than 4 percent in rural districts in 16 of 37 reporting states. In contrast, none of the 21 reporting states with large city districts reported a dropout rate of less than 4 percent in large city districts (Table G).
  • High school four-year completion rates were 80 percent or higher in 20 of 33 reporting states in 1997–98 (Table I). (This rate does not reflect those receiving a GED-based equivalency credential.)
  • The average four-year completion rate was less than 60 percent for American Indian students in 9 reporting states, Hispanic students in 6 states, and Black students in 6 reporting states in 1997–98 (Tables 9a, J).
  • In every reporting state except Alabama, Maine, and West Virginia, the four-year completion rate of Asian students was higher than the other minority groups in the 1997–98 school year (Table 12a).

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