U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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School Engagement

In 2007, there were nearly 3.6 million high school status dropouts1 in the United States, representing a status dropout rate of 8.7 percent. This rate has declined steadily over the past several decades, with a decrease of 38 percent since 1980 (when the rate was 14.1 percent). Historically, Hispanic students have had the highest dropout rates among youth of all racial/ethnic groups.

In 2007, 21.4 percent of Hispanics 16–24 years of age were status dropouts, compared to 8.4 percent of non-Hispanic Blacks and 5.3 percent of non-Hispanic Whites. Nativity is one factor in this disparity: the status dropout rate among Hispanics born in the United States (11.2 percent) was much lower than the overall rate for this ethnic group (data not shown). The 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health measured youth engagement in school. For this measure, parents were asked how often the child cared about doing well in school and how often the child completed all required homework assignments. Children were considered engaged in school if the parent answered “usually” or “always” to both of these questions. Overall, 75.4 percent of children were considered engaged in school. This varied by race/ ethnicity, with non-Hispanic White children having the highest level of school engagement (82.6 percent), and non-Hispanic Black children having the lowest level of engagement (71.6 percent).

1 Status dropout refers to those 16–24 years of age who are not enrolled in school and have not earned high school credentials (diploma or equivalent).

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