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Dropout Rates in the United States: 2000

High School Completion Rates


Trends in high school completion rates for each racial/ethnic group have been fairly similar over the past 29 years (figure 3 and table B7). Whites exhibited a positive trend in their high school completion over the last three decades, although rates have stabilized somewhat in the last decade. Specifically, high school completion rates for White students climbed from about 86 percent in the early 1970s to about 90 percent in 1990. Since 1990, White completion rates have remained stable at 90-92 percent. In 2000, the high school completion rate was 91.8 percent for White young adults.

Black young adults also made significant gains in completing high school over the last three decades as their completion rate rose from 72.1 percent in 1972 to 83.2 percent in 1990. In addition, the gap between Black and White completion rates narrowed in the 1970 and 1980s. However, like White rates, Black completion rates appear to have stabilized in recent years and the gap between the two racial/ethnic groups has thus also stabilized (figure 3 and table B7). In 2000, the Black completion rate was 83.7 percent.

A relatively low percentage of Hispanic young adults complete high school programs. For example, in 2000, 64.1 percent of all Hispanic 18- through 24-year-olds had completed secondary schooling. This compares with 91.8 percent of White, 83.7 percent of Black, and 94.6 percent of Asian young adults.

Though the 2000 rate for Hispanics was significantly higher than the completion rate in 1972 (56.2 percent), overall, completion rates for Hispanics have fluctuated over the last three decades and have shown no consistent trend over the entire period. For example, completion rates for Hispanics increased between 1980 and 1985, and then remained at the same level between 1985 and 2000. Furthermore, the 2000 completion rate of 64.1 percent was not significantly different from the 1985 rate of 66.6 percent.

As mentioned earlier, this is the third year in which Asians/Pacific Islanders were included as a distinct group among racial/ethnic categories. Asian young adults were more likely than their Black and Hispanic peers to complete high school (table 4). In 2000, 94.6 percent of Asian young adults ages 18 through 24 had completed high school, compared with 83.7 percent of Black and 64.1 percent of Hispanic young adults. White young adults also completed high school at a higher rate than both Black and Hispanic young adults and at roughly the same rate as Asians.