How High School Graduation Rates Impact Life Expectancy of Black Male Students

The Schott Foundation for Public Education, in partnership with the University of California, Los Angeles, has released a new report that outlines the systemic opportunities and institutional barriers facing Black male students in the United States.

The authors of the found that following the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, the life expectancy of Black Americans decreased by 4 years, and is currently 6 years less than White Americans. During this time, Black male life expectancy dropped by 5 years, the largest decrease among all race or gender groups.

However, the report analyzed 15 counties from across the United States and found that graduating from high school was a key factor in improving average life expectancy. For each standard increase in educational attainment, Black male life expectancy for each county analyzed increased by 10 months.

From 2012 to 2020, Black students were the largest demographic group to see an improvement in graduation rates. Despite this improvement, only one of the 15 counties studied had a Black male student graduation rate higher than the national average of 86 percent; Mobile County, Alabama at a rate of 88 percent. The five counties with the lowest four-year graduation rates for Black male students were Detroit, Michigan, at 54 percent, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at 59 percent, Baltimore City, Maryland, at 65 percent, Minneapolis, Minnesota, at 65 percent, and Oakland Unified School District in California at 71 percent.

To improve the high school graduation rate of Black male students, the Schott Foundation stresses the importance of implementing “loving systems” in communities and schools. “Loving systems” are systems dedicated to providing core support such as health, educational, and financial resources specifically geared towards the unique experiences of every student. The Schott Foundation urges policymakers, state and federal government entities, and philanthropic organizations to take action towards improving the financial well-being and available support resources for Black male students.

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