Diplomas Count 2014: Motivation Matters - Engaging Students, Creating Learners
Published Online: June 2, 2014
Published in Print: June 5, 2014, as Graduation Gaps

Graduation Gaps: Disparities in H.S. Completion

Blacks and Latinos More Than Half of Nation's Nongraduates

The Education Week Research Center calculated the number of graduates and nongraduates for the class of 2012 by multiplying the 2011-12 graduation rate by the estimated size of the entering freshman class four years earlier. Nationally, about 760,000 of the 3.8 million students who started high school in 2008 failed to earn diplomas. (See related graphic: Nongraduates, Class of 2012)

Members of historically disadvantaged minority groups make up a disproportionate share of dropouts. Black and Latino students, for example, together account for 54 percent of nongraduates, but only 38 percent of the high school population.

Disparities in high school completion based on gender and race and ethnicity are long-standing and relatively well-known within the field. More recently, information has become available on graduation gaps defined by socioeconomic status and participation in specialized educational programs. For the high school class of 2012, 72 percent of economically disadvantaged students graduated with a diploma, compared with 86 percent of their more affluent peers—a gap of 14 percentage points. Even larger disparities are found for students with disabilities (22 points) and those with limited English proficiency (22 points).

Graduation Gaps

The size of these divides also varies dramatically across states. For example, the largest socioeconomic gap in graduation is found in Minnesota, where disadvantaged students lag 28 percentage points behind their classmates. By contrast, gaps of less than 10 points are found in six states.

Graduation Gaps Map

Source: U.S. Department of Education and Education Week Research Center | Visualization: Gina Tomko

Note: Graduation rates by socioeconomic, disability, and limited-English-proficiency status are based on the Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR) method, as reported by the U.S. Department of Education. ACGR results were not available for Idaho, Kentucky, and Oklahoma.

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation provides support to Diplomas Count.
Vol. 33, Issue 34
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