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Numbers and Rates of Public High School Dropouts: School Year 200405
NCES 2008-305
December 2007

Selected Findings

  • There were 540,382 public school students who dropped out of grades 9–12 in school year 2004–05 in the 50 states.1 Of the states that reported dropout data for school year 2004–05, California, New York, and Texas had the highest number of grade 9–12 dropouts, with more than 43,000 dropouts each (table 1).
  • In the 2004–05 school year, public school event dropout rates for grades 9–12 varied from a low of 1.9 percent in North Dakota to a high of 8.2 percent in Alaska. The public school grade 9–12 event dropout rate for the reporting states as a whole was 3.9 percent (table 2).
  • The public school grade 9–12 event dropout rate was relatively stable between school years 2002–03 and 2004–05, hovering around 4 percent (table 3).
  • More males (289,675) than females (209,818) dropped out of grades 9–12 in public schools in school year 2004–05. Event dropout rates for males in grades 9–12 exceeded those for females nationally (4.4 versus 3.4 percent) and in all individual states for which data were available (table 4).
  • For the 512,702 grade 9–12 dropouts for whom race/ethnicity was reported in school year 2004–05, 2.1 percent were American Indian/Alaska Native, 2.9 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander, 26.4 percent were Hispanic, 27.0 percent were Black, non-Hispanic, and 41.5 percent were White, non-Hispanic (derived from table 5). However, while American Indians/Alaska Natives accounted for the smallest share of grade 9–12 event dropouts, the national event dropout rate for these students was higher than for all other racial/ethnic groups (6.7 percent versus 2.5 percent, 5.8 percent, 6.0 percent, and 2.8 percent for Asians/Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, Black, non-Hispanics, and White, non-Hispanics, respectively) (table 6).
  • Public school students in grades 9–12 in the Midwest were less likely to drop out of school (3.4 percent) than were their peers in the Northeast (4.0 percent), the South (3.9 percent), and the West (4.1 percent). For all regions (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West), location of the district in large cities versus less urbanized areas was associated with higher event dropout rates. In the Northeast and Midwest, district size (based on student enrollment) of 50,000 or more students (the largest districts) was associated with higher event dropout rates, while in the South and West, the smallest districts (1,000 or fewer students) had the highest event dropout rates (table 7).
  • Nationally, American Indian/Alaska Native public school students were more likely to drop out of grades 9–12 than were students in other racial/ethnic groups (table 6). However, in the Northeast and the South, public school grade 9–12 event dropout rates for Hispanic and Black, non-Hispanic students exceeded those of American Indian/Alaska Native students (table 7).


1 Reporting states totals include data for the 49 states that reported dropouts. Individual state data were suppressed for 3 states that reported data for less than 80 percent of their students.