America's High School Dropout Rate Is at a Record Low Thanks to One Group

Source: AP
Source: AP

The news: The U.S. education system is struggling to catch up to international standards, but we are least making big gains on lowering the high school dropout rate, especially among black and Hispanic students.

According to a new Pew Research Center report, there's a lot of good new to celebrate: The U.S. high school dropout rate is the lowest ever recorded, with just 7% of 18- to 24-year-olds leaving school in the last year, a steady decline from 12% in 2000.

While the dropout rate has been trending downward among most racial groups, the decrease is most prominent among black and Hispanic students. The record-low dropouts for Hispanic students are especially noteworthy, given that the U.S. Hispanic population has been increasing at the same time. It's an improvement from just a decade ago, when a quarter of Hispanic students ages 16 to 24 were dropping out.

In turn, the high school completion rate for Hispanic students has reached a record high, although still lags behind that of other groups.

Why is this happening? Education has become a top issue for Hispanic voters, with 55% of registered voters saying that education is "extremely important to them," more so than the economy or health care. Pew also points out that with the economy still in sluggish, more Hispanic students might be staying in school due to lack of job opportunity or to make themselves more competitive in the job market.

What's not in question is the fact that this marks a monumental rise in Hispanic students attending and staying in school. And that's a big achievement for the U.S. education system as a whole.

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Eileen Shim

Eileen is a writer living in New York. She studied comparative literature and international studies at Yale University, and enjoys writing about the intersection of culture and politics.

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