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10 Shocking High School Dropout Statistics

Recent research conducted by the National Centre for Education Statistics shows an improved high school graduation rate

in the US

More good news: 

Even students with disabilities and those from poor families are part of this growing trend, high school dropout statistics show. 

On the downside, the NCES confirms that Hispanic, Asian, Native, and African-American kids keep dropping out of high school. 

The thing is:

Unfortunately, finishing high school and going to university is too difficult for some student groups. So, they decide to drop out and find a job instead. 

What’s more:

High school dropout statistics show that high school dropouts are racially different, or they come from different communities and social backgrounds. 

Don’t know how many high school students drop out every year in the US? 

Here are the fresh high school dropout stats for you! 

Fascinating High School Dropout Facts (Editor’s Choice)

  • Roughly 3.3 million students attending public schools should graduate in the  2019-2020 school year.
  • A high schooler dropped out almost every 20 seconds in 2014. This year, around 7,000 students were ditching high school for good on a daily basis. 
  • In 2019, the graduation rate stood at 84.6%.  
  • The US graduation rate grew by 0,5% in 2019 in comparison to the year before. 
  • The average high school dropout rate for kids in the US decreased from 29% in 2000 to 10% in 2016.

General High School Dropout Statistics

Graduating from high school is a vital step in one’s educational development. After that, many students go to college in order to find better jobs and life opportunities.

1. Roughly 3.3 million students attending public schools should graduate in the  2019-2020 school year.


This is great news because it also implies improvement in public school educational techniques.  Moreover, the percentage of high school dropouts is going down, whereas the number of students getting their high school diplomas is rising. 

2. Iowa, Kentucky, and Nebraska have the highest graduation rates (94%). 

(Source: US News) 

NCES collected data about students that finished high school in every US state ranging from thirty schools in the District of Columbia to around 1, 500 in California. The highest dropout rate in the US  was in the states of New Mexico and Arizona (28%). On the other hand, 269 schools in Texas had a 100% graduation rate. These figures come from the 2019 school high school dropout rate by state rankings. 

More Statistics on High School Dropouts

High school dropout reasons can vary significantly. Some students drop out because they fail to attend school regularly, because they are too poor, or because they have physical disabilities. Others have to become caregivers for their loved ones. Others still face prejudice. 

Let’s see what the stats have to say.

3. In 2017, American Alaskan and Indian Native kids had the highest dropout rate (10.1%).  

(Source: National Center for Education Statistics ) 

Poverty and low employment rates are largely to blame for these disturbing numbers. 

With an 8.2 % dropout rate, things are not looking good for the Hispanic population when it comes to high school dropout rate statistics. The same goes for African-Americans who have a 6.5% dropout rate. 

4. High school girls dropped out less than high school boys in 2017- 6.4% vs. 4.4%.

(Source: National Center for Education Statistics ) 

This data is applicable to most racial groups analyzed in 2017. If we take a look at white high school kids, it is clear that boys lead with 4.9% of dropouts vs. the girls’ 3.6% dropout rate. It is similar when it comes to black high school boys, 8% of whom dropped, compared to 4.9% of black girls. 

Lastly, 10% of Hispanic boys dropped out, compared to 6.4% of Hispanic girls. 

5. In 2016/2017, 85% of public school students graduated. In the private school sector, this figure stood at 95%. 


That being said, the public school dropout rate has been decreasing. The reason behind the difference in the public school vs private school dropout rate is of an economic nature. Kids going to private schools come from richer families, which can afford the high tuition fees that come with better facilities and teaching materials. 

6. In 2012, 11.8% of high school dropouts were part of low-income families, while 1.9% lived on higher income.  

(Source: CreditDonkey)

Financial reasons significantly influence the high school dropout rate. Socially disadvantaged high schoolers face difficulties attending classes because some of them have to work part-time jobs to contribute to the family budget. 

What’s more: 

These kids usually don’t look at education as a path to better job opportunities in the future. So, their annual earnings play a significant role in their decision to leave or finish high school.  

High School Dropouts and Crime Statistics

7. In 2003, nearly 75% of convicts in state prisons did not complete high school. Around 40% of them didn’t have a GED.


Many people wonder what percent of high school dropouts end up in jail. 

Here’s the scoop:

59% of inmates in federal prisons failed to acquire a high school diploma. What’s more, one-quarter of them failed their GED tests. 

70% of convicts did not get a high school diploma. In addition to this high school dropout rate, around 47% did not acquire a GED. 

At the same time, 58% of inmates on probation used that time to graduate from high school. 

8. Male high school dropouts have a 47 times greater chance to turn to criminal activities than college graduates. 

(Source:  CreditDonkey

Research data suggests that high school non-graduates end up becoming felons. At the same time, we should acknowledge that the percentage of those who lead normal lives without high school graduation is as high. 

Most worryingly, 22.9% of African-Americans who did not finish high school went to jail. 

The US High School Dropout Rate and Job Opportunities

9. The rate of unemployment for high school ditcher dropouts fluctuated between around 14% and 19% from 2010 to 2016. It then decreased to 8.3% in 2017.


Without a doubt, you don’t need a high school diploma to get a job. Even though this list of career options is limited, you can still pick and choose

  • Beautician
  • Server
  • Construction worker
  • Waiter
  • Warehouse worker
  • Truck driver
  • Caregiver 

The good news is: 

Some companies may even offer to pay for job training and courses, lowering the high school dropout rate

10. High school dropouts can earn roughly $200,000 less than high school graduates. 


If we go a step further and compare the annual salary of a person with a university degree and an individual without a high school diploma, the gap gets bigger. People who attended university earn a whopping $1 million more than those who didn’t finish high school over the course of their working lives. Our experience and education account for the numbers on our paycheck.  


Q: Are dropout rates increasing or declining?

The US high school dropout rates are declining.

The national high school dropout rate shrunk from 9.7% in 2006 to 5.4% in 2017, with that for Hispanics going down from 21% to 8,2 %. 

Q: Does gender affect dropout rates?

High school dropout rates by gender show slight differences between male and female students. So, no, ditching high school before graduating is not typically a guy thing. For instance, between 2010 and 2017, the difference between female and male dropouts has never gone above 3%. 

Q: How does financial status influence dropout rates?

Poverty is closely associated with high school dropout rates over time. Disadvantaged kids often can’t afford to go to high school, as they have to work long hours to help their families make ends meet.  

Q: Does dropping out encourage criminal behavior?

There is a strong correlation between dropping out of high school and committing to criminal activities. Furthermore, high school ditchers are more prone to poverty, social marginalization, and general dissatisfaction with their lives.

Sometimes, delinquent behavior in high school leads to dropping out. This outcome naturally perpetuates ongoing harmful patterns of conduct. 

Q: Why you should not drop out of high school?

It is difficult to hold on to a job or find one without a high school diploma. There are only a few, fairly low-paying jobs, which will make it incredibly difficult to support your family in the future.  

Q: What happens to high school dropouts?

The repercussions of dropping out of high school are huge. Some of the most common ones are social stigmatization, fewer job opportunities, lower-income opportunities, and a higher chance of becoming a felon. 

Q: What are the causes and effects of high school dropouts?

Many people wonder why students drop out of high school and what can be the consequences of that detrimental decision. 

Students on internet forums often complain that they struggle with keeping up with the lessons and attending classes on a regular basis. Others have mental health or physical conditions that can cause their grades to drop. Also, a great number of students feel bored or dissociated in class, so they simply skip school. 

On another note, the prevalent cause of female high school students’ dropouts is teen pregnancy. 


Given these high school dropout statistics, it is essential to take further action. School boards should collaborate with student bodies and teachers across the US to come up with suitable alternatives for kids leaving high schools. 

What’s more:

Officials should not be satisfied with the current increase in high schoolers’ graduation rates. On the contrary, keeping US children of all ethnicities and social backgrounds in high school should be their top priority. 


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