Blacks Close Gap in High School Graduation Rates

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For the first time, the percentage of young black adults who had earned a high school diploma equaled that of young whites last year, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

And for the second consecutive year, the percentage of young women who had earned high school and bachelor's degrees surpassed that of young men.

The Census Bureau issues a report every two years on Americans' levels of education.

For More Information

"Educational Attainment in the United States: March 1997" is available as a PDF file (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) or by calling the U.S. Census Bureau at (310) 457-2464.

In the 25-to-29 age group, 86 percent of blacks were high school graduates last year, compared with 87 percent of whites. The bureau considers those figures statistically equal.

"In the last decade, the number of white [high school graduates] has leveled out," said Jennifer Day, the chief of the education and social-stratification branch of the Census Bureau. "Blacks were trailing, but they've ... caught up."

Blacks still lag behind whites when it comes to college degrees, however.

Thirteen percent of young blacks had obtained a bachelor's or advanced degree as of last year, compared with 25 percent of whites and 42 percent of Asian-Americans in the same age group, according to the report, "Educational Attainment in the United States: March 1997," released last week.

'Steady Haul Upwards'

Women surpassed men in educational attainment for the first time in 1996.

As of last year, 89 percent of young women had completed high school, and 29 percent had earned a bachelor's, graduate, or postgraduate degree. The figures for men were 86 percent and 26 percent, respectively.

"For women, it has been a steady haul upwards," Ms. Day said. "In the 1960s and 1970s, women were going to college but not necessarily finishing."

Hispanics had the lowest levels of educational attainment of any group tracked as of last year, the report says.

Some 62 percent of young Hispanic adults had completed high school, 33 percent had finished some college or more, and 11 percent had completed a bachelor's degree or more.

Vol. 17, Issue 42, Page 3

Published in Print: July 8, 1998, as Blacks Close Gap in High School Graduation Rates
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