New data from the U.S. Department of Education reveals that Black students continue to drop out of high school at a much higher rate than Whites, and nearly 40 percent fail to earn a high school diploma on time.

According to the report, 234,121 White students in the United States dropped out of high school in 2008, the most recent year for which data was available, comprising 2.8 percent of all White students enrolled in public high schools. That same year, there were 159,407 Black students who dropped out of high school, totaling 6.7 percent of all Black public high school students.

The report also found that, nationwide, just fewer than 75 percent of all students received high school diplomas within four years. That number ranged from 91 percent for Asian and Pacific Islander students and 81 percent for White students, to 63.5 percent for Hispanic students and 61.5 percent for Black students.

“Today’s report confirms that our nation faces a dropout crisis. When 25 percent of our students—and almost 40 percent of our Black and Hispanic students—fail to graduate school on time, we know that too many of our schools are failing to offer their students a world-class education,” Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education said in a statement.

American Indians and Alaska Natives had the highest dropout rate at 7.3 percent, while Asian and Pacific Islanders had the lowest at 2.4 percent. The dropout rate for Hispanics was 6 percent.

Louisiana had the highest reported dropout rate at nearly 7.5 percent, while Indiana and New Jersey were tied for the lowest at 1.7 percent.

In Maryland, statewide aggregate data for the class of 2006 showed there were 10,000 more first graders than graduating students; 19,000 more 9th graders than graduating seniors and 3,000 more 12th graders than graduating seniors.

The dropout crisis has been an ongoing issue in the United States. A study released by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston and the Alternative Schools Network in Chicago on May 5, 2009 stated that, “America is currently in the throes of a persistent high school dropout crisis that has been a long time in the making, with substantial disparities in dropout rates across race, ethnic and income groups and geographic areas.”

That report found that in 2007, 16 percent of people between the ages of 16 and 24 are high school dropouts, with a wide majority being men and more than 18 percent of them Black.

“I believe that improving our nation’s graduation rate is absolutely essential to the future of our economy and the future of our nation,” Duncan said in a statement. “I look forward to working with educators across America to raise graduation rates and improve the lives of millions of high school students.”


Gregory Dale

AFRO News Editor