The Racial Gap in Traditional High School Completion Rates

New data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that nationwide 77.8 percent of Black students who entered grade 9 in the fall of 2013, earned a traditional high school diploma in the traditional four-year time period ending in the spring of 2017. For Whites, 88.6 percent of students earned their high school diploma in four years.

The new data also breaks down the statistics by state. The highest Black student high school graduation rate was in the state of Alabama. There, 86.5 percent of Black students graduated within four years, compared to 91 percent of White students. In Texas, 86.1 percent of Black students earned their high school diploma in the traditional four-year period compared to 93.6 eprcent of White students. Maryland was the only other state that had a Black student graduation rate above 85 percent.

The lowest high school graduation rate for Blacks was in the state of Minnesota. There, 64 percent of Black students graduated from high school within four years. For White students in Minnesota, the graduation rate was 88.1 percent. The other states where the Black student high school graduation rate was below 70 percent are Wisconsin, Oregon, Ohio, New Mexico, Nevada, and Michigan.

Wisconsin had the largest racial gap in high school graduation rates of 25.7 percentage points. The White rate was 92.7 percent and the Black rate was 67 percent. There were no states where the Black graduation rate exceeded the White rate. In Hawaii, the racial gap between Blacks and Whites was only one percentage point.

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  1. I think this data indicates the continuing need for educational intervention at the postsecondary level. The racial disparities in high school graduation rates remain a challenge.

    • Jerald L. Henderson,
      We have to also take into account the “Social Promotiom” that is continually practiced at public schools. Teachers simply don’t want to deal with unruly students so they are past along to the next grade level without mastery of subject content. Even if graduation rates are high for blacks in the Alabama, the state’s education system is likely subpar compared to public schools in the northeast where a fewer % of black students graduate.

      • The “social promotion” is not practiced within high schools as it is within elementary schools. Teachers are not permitted to enhance a student’s grade within their class in order to promote them to the following grade. Most high schools also no longer require an exit exam such as the FSA in Florida to allow students to graduate. Thankfully, many states are rejecting the horrible policies which were established in 2002 in the No Child Left Behind Act and revising them.

  2. The profoundly destructive racism which is at the root of that statistic is alive and well today and has prevented me from helping to rectify that form of injustice for the past thirty-seven years. The modern language teaching method in all high schools, colleges, universities, and adult education classes is inherently and profoundly defective and confusing. This severely and unnecessarily complicates the learning process for all students and completely blocks this for a very large percentage. This is especially destructive for minority youth. I helped to develop a superior language teaching PSYCHO GENERATIVE which helps kids of all levels of ability do well in the classroom. If one child in a family learns Spanish with the PSYCHO-GENERATIVE method, s/he can teach what they have learned to their siblings, parents, and friends—-and most of the latter will be able to test out of a first level Spanish course!!! This i can readily prove.

    Tom Washington, PhD

    • Do you blame everything on racism? The kids CHOSE to drop out from a free education program provided to all children. Even those of color! I hope you’re as this concerned about high illegitimate pregnancies, high abortion rates, fatherless homes, violence against children and other issues having to do with morality and responsibility. The black community could do so much to help itself but they have become dependent on and continue to vote for politicians that could careless about their welfare.

      • Wow have we yet arrived at a point that we do not bash a racial group but promote them. I, as a black woman, who holds a graduate degree was and still am a statistic. Research shows that minority groups are at a lower standard and disadvantage than that of their white counterparts. This is partly due to how the systematic political systems of education are set up. When we look at schools from a geographical perspective, in the poorer communities, the teachers that are hired to provide educational services are the same people that come from upper middle class and may or may not be culturally aware of the economic pitfalls that a person of color has. Economic pitfalls are and have been a crisis in itself, to the point that a white teacher that is hire in a disadvantaged neighborhood, may not be equipped with the tools that appease the standards of a minority group. They will treat and educate a person of color at a lower standard than that of a white student. Yes, they will provide a quality education, but they will not push a minority to their maximum capacity as they would a white child. In fear of being called a racist , they try to understand a minority, but when you were not raised in an environment that produces the financial means or resources, one could never understand. When we are looking at the overall rates based on race or ethnic group, blacks still fall short. This is not due to NOT wanting an education. Personally, I dropped out of high school and held a A-B average. I dropped out because school was boring and I was not being pushed to my maximum capacity as a student. The teachers were more concerned about my athletic abilities, then to promote my educational goals. I got my GED and went on to college. I pushed myself to gain a better life for me and to be able to share the same knowledge that I gained with someone else. Go back to 1996 when I dropped out of school, I ended up pregnant at 16 years old. I grew up in South Central LA poor where we were bussed out of the black communities to the Valley in white communities to get an education. Fast forward, my son went to a 98% black school (South Carolina), graduated #5 in his class and went on to Clemson University on an academic scholarship in their Architecture program and graduated.
        I am a first generation college student and my son is the first person that even graduated from high school in our family. I shared that to say this… there was a cycle of generational despair and I was able to stop the cycle, but it was not due a lot of short comings on my part. So lets not be quick to say that BLACKS do not want an education, its just hard to compete with our counterparts where we start out with disadvantages.

        • I don’t know Ms. West. I really wish I could understand this issue along with the crime rates. I have to believe a lot goes back to the family and the culture in which you are raised. I grew up in a troubled family of modest means with a mother who was an alcoholic. However, I did have both parents and striving for excellence was always pushed by my father. Although my parents didn’t have a college education, it was encouraged and I ended up going to Clemson and paying my own way along with a small loan. I too am a first generation college graduate. It seems too easy to blame systemic racism alone when 65% grow up in single family homes. It has to be hard to climb out of poverty, raise children, and help with homework when you are a single mom. Something has to change in that picture and I think it starts at home. Social justice alone isn’t going to fix that. Seems there has to be cultural change.

    • We all speak the same language are you just another person making excuses for a particular group? Every kid is taught the same thing by the same teacher if one group out performs another we should praise that group for doing so well and not blame the school blame the parents of the group not doing as well. Parents must reinforce what kids learn and make sure work and assignments are turned in. This blame everyone else routine is getting old bud.

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