What percent of Americans graduate from high school?

Why is this question important? A high school education forms the foundation of basic skills needed in society and is the preparation for higher education in college.

See further discussion below.


Source: 2008 United States Census

Results: 1940 to 1990 shows a dramatic increase in percent of U.S. residents 25 years or more year olds with four or more years of high school. In 1940 about 26% of Whites and 7% of Blacks  had 4 or more years of high school. By 1990 about 79% of Whites and 66% of Blacks had four or more years of high school. No data is available or Hispanics until 1974 and for Asians until 2003. By 2006 about 87% of Asians, 86% of Whites, 81% of Blacks, and 59% of Hispanics had four or more years of high school. From about 1974 to 2002, Blacks with four or more years of high school has improved dramatically from nearly the same as Hispanics (40%) to nearly the same as Whites (83%). Hispanic graduation rates have not improved nearly as much as that of Whites and Blacks. In the late '90s and early '00s the improvement in graduation rates of all groups slowed.

Implications: An increasing majority of White and Black students have attended four or more years of high school, while fewer than 60% of Hispanic students have taken advantage of this opportunity.

Authors: United States Census Bureau

Publisher: United States Census Bureau

Study Description: The United States Census Bureau has conducted a monthly 'Current Population Survey' (CPS) for over 50 years. The CPS interviews 57,000 households monthly, scientifically selected on the basis of area of residence to represent the Nation as a whole, individual States, or other specified areas. The survey checks employment situation, along with demographic status of the population, information such as age, sex, race, marital status, educational attainment, and family structure. Periodically additional questions are included on such important subjects as health, education, income, and previous work experience.

Graduation Rate: In the context of this data, four or more years of high school at age 25 or greater approximates high school graduation. Because some of these adults may not have completed all courses with acceptable grades or passed applicable high school exit examinations, not all may have actually graduated.

CPS: Current Population Survey performed monthly by the U.S. Census Bureau