ABC News' Mary Bruce Reports: New national dropout rates released today show that 25 percent of all students – and almost 40 percent of black and Hispanic students – fail to graduate high school on time.
“Today's report confirms that our nation faces a dropout crisis,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a written statement. “President Obama's agenda addresses the dropout crisis with an unprecedented commitment to turn around our lowest-performing schools, including the 2,000 high schools that produce half of our nation's dropouts and as many as three-quarters of minority dropouts. With $4 billion available for these turnarounds, we have the resources to transform these schools from dropout factories to college graduation academies.”
According to the report released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), entitled “Public School Graduates and Dropouts from the Common Core of Data: School Year 2007-08,” there were 613,379 dropouts from grades 9-12 in the 2007-2008 school year, an overall event dropout rate of 4.1 percent. Louisiana had the highest event dropout rate at 7.5 percent. Indiana and New Jersey tied for the lowest dropout rate at 1.7 percent.
Of the 47 states that reported dropouts by gender, the rate was higher for males, 4.6 percent, than for females, 3.5 percent.
The report shows that graduation rates have remained relatively flat in recent years. Since the 2002-2003 school year the percentage of high school freshman that failed to graduate in four years has ranged between 25 and 27 percent.
The NCES admits that there is a little “wiggle room” since the report does not take into account students that take more than 4 years to graduate. “The caveat is that some kids take a little longer to graduate,” a NCES spokesperson told ABC News.
Comparing graduation rates in the US to rates in other countries is also difficult to do according to the NCES. “It’s apples to oranges,” the spokesperson explained. “Many European countries track kids up to 16 [years of age] and then they’re on a vocational or a university track. Very few industrialized nations have a system like we do.”