The Racial Gap in Traditional Four-Year High School Graduation Rates

New data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that nationwide 85.8 percent of students graduate from high school within the traditional four-year period. For Black students, the nationwide high school graduation rate was 79.6 percent. This was 10 percentage points below the rate for Whites.

The statistics also show the graduation rates of Black students in each state. The highest Black student high school graduation rate was in Alabama, where 89.8 percent of Black students graduate within the traditional four-year period. Other states with Black student graduation rates over 86 percent were Texas and West Virginia.

The lowest Black student high school graduation rate of 67 percent was in the state of New Mexico. Other states with a Black student high school graduation rate of below 70 percent were Minnesota, Ohio, and the District of Columbia.

In all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the Black high school graduation rate was below the rate for Whites. The smallest gaps were found in Delaware, Hawaii, West Virginia, and Alabama. States where the racial gap in high school graduation rates was more than 15 percentage points, include Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

Note: The Education Department’s adjusted cohort graduation rate is determined by the number of students who graduate in 4 years with a regular high school diploma divided by the number of students who form the adjusted cohort for the graduating class. From the beginning of 9th grade, students who are entering that grade for the first time form a cohort that is “adjusted” by adding any students who subsequently transfer into the cohort and subtracting any students who subsequently transfer out, emigrate to another country, or die.


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