May 9, 2013

Hispanic High School Graduates Pass Whites in Rate of College Enrollment

III. Young Hispanics Dropping Out of High School

PHC-2013-05-college-enrollment-07The newly released October 2012 data from BLS also indicate that young Hispanics are much less likely to drop out of high school than they were in 2000. In October 2012 there were 134,000 Hispanic recent high school dropouts. By definition these were Hispanic 16- to 24-year-olds who reported not being enrolled in school in October 2012 but were enrolled a year earlier and did not have a high school diploma. This compares with 101,000 recent Hispanic high school dropouts in October 2000. Although the absolute number of Hispanic recent high school dropouts has risen, there are many more Hispanic students enrolled in school in October 2012 compared with October 2000.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish the number of 16- to 24-year-olds who were enrolled in school last year and did not have a high school diploma, so a precise recent high school dropout rate cannot be tabulated. Instead we can compare the number of dropouts to the size of the high school graduating classes. In October 2000 there were three newly minted Hispanic high school graduates for every one recent Hispanic high school dropout. By October 2012 there were five newly minted Hispanic high school graduates for every one dropout. Young Hispanics are increasingly staying in school.

By this measure, dropping out also has sharply declined among 16- to 24-year-old whites since 2000. The ratio of black high school graduates to black dropouts has not markedly changed from October 2000 to October 2012.

The trends on Hispanic recent school dropouts are consistent with other better known Hispanic dropout statistics. The National Center for Education Statistics reports the high school dropout rate for 16- to 24-year-olds. In October 2000 28% of Hispanic 16- to 24-year-olds were school dropouts according to this measure (National Center for Education Statistics, 2013). By October 2011 14% of Hispanics in this age group were dropouts.

PHC-2013-05-college-enrollment-08Evidence also suggests that Hispanic students are increasingly likely to graduate from high school (in this instance “graduate” refers to those who obtain a regular high school diploma and does not include students obtaining a GED). A recent comprehensive investigation of high school graduation rates finds that 78% of Hispanics graduated from high school in 2010, an increase from 64% in 2000 (Murnane, 2013).

Cite this publication: Richard Fry and Paul Taylor. “Hispanic High School Graduates Pass Whites in Rate of College Enrollment.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (May 9, 2013), accessed on July 23, 2014.