A Large and Persisting Racial Disparity in High School Completions

While many barriers remain restricting access to college for African Americans, a high school diploma remains an essential ticket to higher education. A new report from the Department of Education reveals that blacks continue to graduate from high school at a rate well below that of their white counterparts.

The data shows that in the November 2007 to October 2008 period, 6.4 percent of all black students in grades 10 through 12 dropped out of school during that one-year period. For whites the rate was 2.3 percent. The dropout rate for blacks in the 2007-08 year was one of the highest in the past decade.

The Department of Education also calculates the percentage of all young people ages 16 through 24 who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate. For all young blacks, nearly 10 percent dropped out of school and did not complete their high school education. This is more than double the white rate of 4.8 percent. There are more than 530,000 young blacks who have left school with no high school graduation credential.