As high school students progress through each grade, the gap in credits accumulated toward graduation grows larger between students who eventually drop out and those who graduate on time, according to a statistical brief published by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences.
That pattern holds for all student and school characteristics. The size of the gap, however, is different for some student groups. For example, among blacks and Hispanics, the respective credit-accumulation gaps between 12th grade dropouts and on-time graduates are larger than the size of the gap between white dropouts and on-time graduates.
The study looks at a nationally representative sample of 10th graders in public and private schools in spring 2002. Those who hadn’t finished their high school education by August 2004 were considered to be dropouts.
A version of this article appeared in the February 11, 2009 edition of Education Week