Examining Racial Differences in School Dropout Rates at the State Level

Last week, a JBHE post reported that in 2016, 6.2 percent of all African Americans ages 16 to 24 did not have a high school diploma and were not enrolled in school. This so-called status dropout rate has dropped for African Americans by more than half since the turn of the century and is now only slightly higher than the rate for Whites.

But a new report from the U.S. Department of Education shows that the racial gap in high school dropout rates varies greatly from state to state.

It may come as a surprise to some readers that the high school dropout rate for Whites in Alabama is higher than the rate for Blacks. In Pennsylvania too, the White dropout rate is higher than the rate for Blacks. In the southern states of Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina, there is only a small differences in the dropout rates for Blacks and Whites.

However, in some states with significant Black student populations, the dropout rate gap remains wide. For example, in Delaware the Black dropout rate is triple the rate for Whites. In New York, Wisconsin, and New Jersey, Blacks are more than twice as likely as Whites to be high school dropouts. In Louisiana Ohio, Michigan, and Arkansas, the Black dropout rate is nearly double the rate for Whites.

The full report, Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2018, may be downloaded by clicking here.


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