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Dropout Rates in the United States: 2000

Event and Status Dropout Rates


Past data have shown a strong association between race/ethnicity and the likelihood of dropping out of school. In particular, cohort studies of national longitudinal data for American high school students, such as the High School and Beyond study sponsored by NCES, show that Hispanics and Blacks are at greater risk of dropping out than Whites11. Other analyses of data from the NCES National Education Longitudinal Study and analyses reported by the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans also confirm these patterns12.

However, data from the October 2000 CPS show no significant differences in event dropout rates among any of the race/ethnicity categories (table 1). The event dropout rate for Hispanic students in 2000 was 7.4 percent, for Blacks 6.1 percent, for Whites 4.1 percent, and for Asians/Pacific Islanders 3.5 percent13. (While some of these differences appear to be proportionally large, none are statistically significant at the 0.05 level, due to relatively large standard errors.)14 Similar comparisons using 1999, 1998, and 1997 CPS data have found some differences, with Hispanic students being at greater risk of dropping out.

11See R. Ekstrom, M. Goertz, J. Pollack, and D. Rock, "Who Drops Out of High School and Why? Findings from a National Study," in School Dropouts: Patterns and Policies (1987), 52-69. For dropout data using the National Education Longitudinal Study, see tables B9 and B10 in U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Dropout Rates in the United States: 1994, NCES 96-863, by M. McMillen and P. Kaufman (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1996).

12President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, Our Nation on the Fault Line: Hispanic American Education, A report to the President of the United States, the Nation, and the Secretary of Education, United States Department of Education, September, 1996.

13The racial/ethnic categories used in this report are Black, non-Hispanic; White, non-Hispanic; Hispanic; and Asian/Pacific Islander (non-Hispanic). However, for convenience, the labels Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander are used in the report.

14The estimates for the dropout rate and number of dropouts among Asians/Pacific Islanders will show large year-to-year fluctuations due to the relatively small sample sizes of 15- through 24-year old Asians/Pacific Islanders in the October CPS.