5 Fascinating Statistics About High School Dropouts in America

Considering the flack the United States educational system gets for its underperformance, you might think that the high school dropout rate would be a cause for concern. However, the reality of our high school graduation rates would actually surprise you. Here are some fascinating statistics about high school dropouts in the United States.

  1. The numbers have fallen across all demographics. In 1972, the government started tracking the dropout rates specifically for Hispanic students because this group has consistently highest percentages of students who do not get their high school diploma. Back then, over one-third of all Hispanic students dropped out. Today that number is down to 13.6 percent. However, the group still leads all races and ethnicities when it comes to young people out of school with no diploma or G.E.D.OK

In 1967, black students dropped out at a rate of 29 percent. That number is down to 7 percent, the same as the national average, today. White students have always held on to the lowest percentage of the dropout pie chart, even when their numbers represented a larger majority of total student populations. In 1967, 15 percent of white students dropped out of high school; today, just 5 percent do.

  1. Low-income students are much more likely to drop out than their middle-class peers. In 2009, students from families in low-income brackets ran a risk of dropping out that was five times higher than high-income peers. Students from low-income families are 2.4 times more likely to drop out than middle-income kids, and over 10 times more likely than high-income peers to drop out.

Still, the future is not completely bleak for kids from disadvantaged economic environments; in 1975, low-income students dropped out at a rate of 16 percent but that number now sits comfortably under 10 percent.

  1. Students with disabilities are still being left behind by schools. Household income is the not the only disadvantage many dropouts have, though. Students with learning or physical disabilities drop out at a rate of 36 percent. Overall, a student who does not fit the traditional classroom mold, or who falls behind for some reason, is more likely to lose motivation when it comes to high school and decide to give up altogether.
  2. Men and women drop out at around equal rates. When it comes to gender, there has not been much differentiation when it comes to dropout percentages in over 40 years. There have been four years since 1972 when the rate for young men dropouts was noticeably higher than young women: 1974, 1976, 1978 and 2000.
  3. D.C. has the lowest high school graduation rate and Iowa has the highest. According to the latest set of national statistics, released in 2012, high school graduation rates were the lowest in the District of Columbia (59 percent), Nevada (62 percent), New Mexico (63 percent), Georgia (67 percent) and Oregon and Alaska (both with 68 percent). By contrast, the states with the highest graduation rates were Iowa (88 percent), Vermont and Wisconsin (87 percent), and Indiana, Nebraska and New Hampshire (86 percent). The type of area a student lives also impacts graduation rates. The average high school grad rate in the largest 50 U.S. cities is just 53 percent, compared with 71 percent in suburban America.

As you see, there are many factors that seem related to the high school dropout rates in this country. However, one thing is certain—in most demographics, fewer and fewer students are dropping out. That is encouraging, even if we do have a way to go.

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