May 20, 2022

New Data: “Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 1972-2012”

From the National Center for Education Statistics:

This report updates a series of NCES reports on high school dropout and completion rates that began in 1988. The report draws on an array of nationally representative surveys and administrative datasets to present statistics on high school dropout and completion rates. The report includes national estimates of the percentage of students who drop out in a given 12-month period (event dropout rates), the percentage of young people in a specified age range who are high school dropouts (status dropout rates), and the percentage of young people in a specified age range who hold high school credentials (status completion rates). In addition, the report includes state-level data on event dropout rates and the percentage of students who graduate within four years of starting ninth grade (adjusted cohort graduation rates). Data are presented by a number of characteristics including race/ethnicity, sex, and socioeconomic status.

From the Report:

The national event dropout rate presented here is based on data from the CPS and is an estimate of the percentage of both private and public high school students who left high school between the beginning of one school year and the beginning of the next without earning a high school diploma or an alternative credential, such as a GED. Specifically, the rate describes the percentage of youth ages 15 through 24 in the United States who dropped out of grades 10–12 from either public or private schools in the 12 months between one October and the next (e.g., October 2011 to October 2012).11 The measure provides information about the rate at which U.S. high school students are leaving school without receiving a high school credential. As such, it can be used to study student experiences in the U.S. secondary school system in a given year. It is not well suited for studying how many people in the country lack a high school credential irrespective of whether they attended U.S. high schools, nor does it provide a picture of the dropout problem more generally because it only measures how many students dropped out in a single year, and students may reenter the school system after that time. More detail about the definition and computation of the event dropout rate and other rates along with a summary table of how rates in this report relate to each other can be found in appendix A.

Direct to Full Text Report (112 pages; PDF)

Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 1972–2012 Compendium Report

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.