Blog: Latino Ed Beat

A Record-Low Dropout Rate, Thanks to Hispanic Students

Fewer Latino students are dropping out of high school than in recent years. Source: Flickr/BdwayDiva1 (CC BY 2.0)

A record-low high school dropout rate among American teens in 2013 was driven, partly, by improvements among Hispanic and black students, according to the Pew Research Center

The national rate — currently at 7 percent — has seen a steady decline since 2000, when 12 percent of 18 to 24 year olds had not finished school. While the largest percentage of dropouts are Hispanics, the group saw more dramatic improvement — from 32 percent in 2000 to 14 percent last year. Blacks saw a decrease of about 7 percentage points in that same time frame.

“The decline in the size of the Hispanic dropout population has been particularly noteworthy because it’s happened at the same time that the Hispanic youth population is growing,” writes Richard Fry of Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project. “The number of Hispanic 18- to 24-year-old dropouts peaked at 1.5 million in 2001 and fell to 889,000 by 2013, even though the size of the Hispanic youth population has grown by more than 50% since 2000. The last time the Census Bureau counted fewer than 900,000 Hispanic dropouts was in 1987.”

Studies show education has become a priority among Latinos, which could have something to do with the decrease.

Fall 2013 research by Education Next shows 13-year-olds of all races had improved on the National Assessment for Education Progress in both reading and math, with Hispanic and black students again showing more dramatic leaps than white students from the late 1970s to 2010. This development suggests a larger percentage of eighth graders were better prepared academically upon entering high school. 

Also, 49 percent of last spring’s Latino high school graduates immediately enrolled in college for this fall’s semester, the Hispanic Trends Project’s Mark Hugo Lopez said at EWA’s Spanish-Language Media Convening last month. A survey the group conducted in October 2013 revealed Hispanics are the largest minority group enrolled in both two- and four-year colleges. 

Greater awareness of the dropout problem, efforts by districts, states and the federal government to keep schools accountable and new intervention methods — including one-on-one instruction — have also been cited as contributing factors. Source: Pew Research Center