ChildStats.gov—Forum on Child and Family Statistics
faces of children
Home  |  About the Forum  |  Publications  |  Help
Search

America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2017

High School Completion

Attainment of a high school diploma or its equivalent is an indicator that a person has acquired the basic academic skills needed to function in today's society. The percentage of young adults ages 18–24 with a high school diploma or an equivalent credential is a measure of the extent to which young adults have completed a basic prerequisite for many entry-level jobs and for higher education. Persons with higher levels of education tend to have better economic outcomes than their peers with lower levels of education.117

Indicator ED4: Percentage of young adults ages 18–24 who have completed high school by race and Hispanic origin, 1980–2015
Indicator ED4: Percentage of young adults ages 18–24 who have completed high school by race and Hispanic origin, 1980–2015

NOTE: From 1980 to 1991, high school completion was measured by the completion of 4 years of high school rather than the actual attainment of a high school diploma or equivalent. Diploma equivalents include alternative credentials obtained by passing exams such as the GED test. Data on race and Hispanic origin are collected separately and combined for reporting according to the 1997 U.S. Office of Management and Budget Standards for Data on Race and Ethnicity. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, School Enrollment Supplement.

  • In 2015, about 93 percent of young adults ages 18–24 had completed high school with a diploma or an alternative credential, such as a GED certificate. The high school completion rate has increased since 1980, when it was 84 percent.
  • The high school completion rate for Black, non-Hispanic young adults increased from 75 percent in 1980 to 92 percent in 2015. For White, non-Hispanic young adults, this rate increased from 87 percent in 1980 to 95 percent in 2015. The completion rate for Hispanic young adults increased 31 percentage points between 1980 and 2015, from 57 percent to 88 percent, although it has been consistently lower than the rates for their White, non-Hispanic and Black, non-Hispanic peers during this period.
  • High school completion rates increased between 2003 (when separate data became available for all race groups) and 2015 for young adults who were Hispanic (from 69 to 88 percent); Black, non-Hispanic (from 85 to 92 percent); and White, non-Hispanic (from 92 to 95 percent). In contrast, 2015 completion rates for non-Hispanic young adults who were Asian (97 percent), Pacific Islander (94 percent), of Two or more races (94 percent), and American Indian or Alaska Native (82 percent) were not statistically different from the rates in 2003.
  • In 2015, the high school completion rate was higher for non-Hispanic young adults who were Asian (97 percent), White (95 percent), of Two or more races (94 percent), and Black (92 percent) than for those who were Hispanic (88 percent) and American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic (82 percent). The completion rate was also higher for Asian, non-Hispanic young adults than for their non-Hispanic White and Black peers.

table icon ED4 HTML Table

117 Kena, G., Hussar, W., deBrey, C., Musu-Gillette, L., Wang, X., Zhang, J., & Dunlop Velez, E. (2016). The condition of education 2016 (NCES Publication No. 2016-144). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2016144