Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States

Patrick Stark and Jiashan Cui

Dropping out of high school is related to a number of negative outcomes, including lower lifetime earnings, higher likelihood of unemployment, and higher reliance on welfare.

This report builds upon a series of National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports on high school dropout and completion rates that began in 1988. It presents estimates of rates in 2013, provides data on long-term trends in dropout and completion rates, and examines the characteristics of high school dropouts and completers. Five rates are presented to provide a broad perspective on high school dropouts and completers in the United States: the event dropout rate, the status dropout rate, the status completion rate, the adjusted cohort graduation rate, and the averaged freshman graduation rate. Each rate contributes unique information. Information about individuals who pass the GED exam is provided to place the different rates into context relative to this widely used alternative high school credential.