Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 2000. EA 1.5 High School Completion Rates for 18- Through 24-Year-Olds

01/01/2000

High school graduates earn substantially more than persons who leave high school without graduating.15 Table EA 1.5 presents the high school completion rates for 18- through 24-year-olds who were not still enrolled in a high school program—i.e., the percentage in this age group who have received a high school diploma or its equivalent, such as passing the General Educational Development (GED) exam. In 1998, the high school completion rate was 85 percent. As can be seen in Table EA 1.5, most students receive a high school diploma rather than an equivalent credential (75 percent versus 10 percent, respectively), though the equivalency credential has become more common in recent years. Between 1972 and 1998, the completion rate has remained fairly stable at between 83 percent and 86 percent (see Table EA 1.5).

Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin.16 As Figure EA 1.5 shows, completion rates vary dramatically by race and Hispanic origin. Hispanics have had much lower high school completion rates than blacks and whites since the early 1970s. The high school completion rate for Hispanics in 1998 was only 63 percent, compared with 81 percent for blacks and 90 percent for whites. This suggests that many Hispanic youth and young adults will be less prepared than other 18- through 24-year-olds to enter or progress in the labor force.

The completion rate for blacks rose from 72 percent in 1972 to 81 percent in 1985, and it has remained at about that level through 1998 (see Table EA 1.5). The completion rate for Hispanics rose from 56 percent in 1972 to 67 percent in 1985 and stands at 63 percent in 1998, as well. The completion rate has also increased among whites, but to a lesser extent (see Figure EA 1.5).

 

15 U.S. Bureau of the Census. 1997. Current Population Reports, P60-197. Money Income in the United States: 1996, With Separate Data on Valuation of Noncash Benefits, Table 7. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office; U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. 1996. Condition of Education 1996 (Indicators 32 and 34). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
16 Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races.

 

Table EA 1.5 High school completion rates (percentage) and method of completion for 18- through 24-year-oldsa in the United States, by race and Hispanic origin:b Selected years, 1972-1998

  1972 1975 1980 1985 1990 1991 1992d 1993d 1994d,e 1995d,e 1996d,e 1997d,e 1998
Total
Completed 83 84 84 85 86 85 86 86 86 85 86 86 85
   Diploma 81 81 81 81 79 78 76 77 75
   Equivalent f 5 4 5 5 7 8 10 9 10
White b
Completed 86 87 88 88 90 89 91 90 91 90 92 91 90
   Diploma 85 85 86 86 84 83 81 81 80
   Equivalent f 5 4 5 5 6 7 11 9 10
Black b
Completed 72 70 75 81 83 83 82 82 83 85 83 82 81
   Diploma 78 77 76 76 75 75 73 72 72
   Equivalent f 5 5 6 6 8 9 10 10 10
Hispanic c
Completed 56 62 57 67 59 57 62 64 62 63 62 67 63
   Diploma 55 53 57 58 54 54 55 59 52
   Equivalent f 4 3 6 6 8 9 7 8 11

a Refers to persons not currently enrolled in high school or below. It is calculated using the Current Population Survey data from October of a given year.
b Non-Hispanic .
c Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
d Numbers for these years reflect new wording of the educational attainment item in the Current Population Survey.
e Numbers for these years may reflect changes in Current Population Survey due to newly instituted computer-assisted interviewing and/or due to the change in the population controls used this year to the 1990 Census-based estimates, with adjustments for undercount.
f Diploma equivalents include passing the General Educational Development (GED) exam. Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Dropout Rates in the United States: 1996, Tables 13 and A25, and Dropout Rates in the United States: 1997 and 1998, Table 4.

 

Figure EA 1.5 High school completion rates for 18- through 24-year-oldsa in the United States, by race and
Hispanic origin:b Selected years, 1980-1998

a Refers to persons not currently enrolled in high school or below. It is calculated using the Current Population Survey data from October of a given year.
b Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
Sources: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. 1996. Table A25, 1997, Table 4.
 

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