Five Facts about High School Dropouts

Nearly a quarter of the nation’s teens don’t finish high school, and they go on to earn less money and require more public assistance than high school graduates. The problem is particularly pressing in D.C., which had a 68 percent graduation rate in 2008. Kids who skip school are more likely to eventually drop out, and the District’s truancy rate stands at 20 percent.

NPR is in the middle of a series about the cost of dropping out of high school. We’ve excerpted five of the most eye-opening facts about who drops out and why.

Dropouts by race

Latinos have the highest dropout rate at 47 percent. The rate is 43 percent for African Americans, 17 percent for whites and 10 percent for Asian Pacific Islanders.

Female dropouts

Pregnancy is the most common reason teenage girls drop out, and many of those dropouts are Latina. About 40 percent of Latinas who dropout are pregnant.

White dropouts

Rural areas are home to the majority of white dropouts. About one-fifth of “dropout factories” are in rural communities.

Black dropouts

About 500,000 black male teens drop out of high school every year, and 60 percent of black male dropouts spend time in prison.

Dropouts over time

Of Americans who have dropped out of high school, sixty percent are now older than 40, and they mostly left to start working. Over time, a dropout earns $200,000 less than a high school graduate and about $1 million less than a college graduate.