NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

High School Graduation Rates Disputed

November 14, 2001

A study by researcher Jay P. Greene for the Manhattan Institute claims that federal figures describing national high school graduation rates are inflated -- or, in the group's words, "implausibly high." Greene also found that black students graduate from public schools at especially low rates.

  • The study claims that nationally only 74 percent of the class of 1998 in public schools graduated.
  • That is a considerably smaller portion than the 86 percent claimed by the federal National Center for Education Statistics.
  • Greene arrived at his figure by counting the number of eighth-graders in public schools in the 1993-94 school year and comparing it with the number of high school diplomas issued in their graduation year of 1997-98.
  • The federal government measures high school completion rates based on census data and reports from school districts, and includes people up to age 24, as well as those who receive an "equivalent degree -- such as the General Educational Development credential.

According to the Department of Education, black students had a high school completion rate of 72 percent, while Hispanic students had a rate of 52 percent.

But Greene found the black rate to be 56 percent, and 54 percent for Hispanics.

Source: Cheryl Wetzstein, "Study: Graduation Rates 'Implausibly High,'" Washington Times, November 14, 2001; based on Jay P. Greene, High School Graduation Rates in the United States, November 2001, Manhattan Institute.

For study


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