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Civic Report
November 2001

High School Graduation Rates in the United States



Center for Civic Innovation.





CORRECTION TO JEFFERSON COUNTY NUMBERS: There was a data entry error that led to incorrect graduation rates for Jefferson County, Kentucky. Rather than recording that there were 2,197 African-American students in 1993-4, we recorded that there were 3,197 students. Correcting for this error yields a revised African-American graduation rate for Jefferson County, Kentucky of 49% and an overall graduation rate of 66%.

One of the benefits of our approach to computing graduation rates is that the technique is transparent and the numbers are easily checked by others. In the unfortunate and rare event of an error this allows others to detect the error and allows us to correct it quickly. I apologize for the mistake.

This study uses a straightforward and reliable method to determine the percentage of public high school students in the United States who actually graduate. Using the class of 1998 as his test case, Dr. Greene determines that only 74% graduated nationwide. Furthermore, the study finds that only 56% of African-American students and 54% of Latino students did so. Moreover, the study further demonstrates that 7 states and 16 of the 50 largest school districts were unable to graduate more than half of their African-American students, while 9 states and 21 of the 50 largest districts were unable to do so for Latino students. The study’s graduation rates are also compared to equivalent statistics determined using other methods.


Introduction to the Revised Report

Executive Summary

About the Author

Author’s Acknowledgements



Figure 1: Earnings and the Importance of a High School Education

Calculating Graduation Rates

Figure 2: Calculating the National Graduation Rate for the Class of 1998

The Results: Ranking the States

Figure 3: National Graduation Rates for the Class of 1998

The Results: Ranking the Districts

Comparing Graduation Rates to Other Dropout/High School Completion Statistics

Advantages of Calculating Graduation Rates

Dropout Statistics Reported by Districts and States



Table 1: Graduation Rate by State and Race

Table 2: Ranking of Graduation Rates by State

Table 3: Ranking of African-American Graduation Rates by State

Table 4: Ranking of Latino Graduation Rates by State

Table 5: Ranking of White Graduation Rates by State

Table 6: Graduation Rate by District and Race

Table 7: Ranking of Graduation Rates by District

Table 8: Ranking of African-American Graduation Rates by District

Table 9: Ranking of Latino Graduation Rates by District

Table 10: Ranking of White Graduation Rates by District



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