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32 High School Statistics for a Successful Graduation – HealthCareers


high school statistics

32 High School Statistics for a Successful Graduation

High school days used to be the most exciting and unforgettable moments of a young person’s life. Still, the recent high school statistics reveal that anxiety and depression are slowly creeping into the lives of students. Nowadays, the increased workload, bullying, and peer pressure make high school very stressful for adolescents. Consequently, they are turning to substance abuse and prescription drugs. 

However, while the everyday high school experience is filled with violence and isolation, graduation rates couldn’t be more optimistic. There’s also a significant reduction in racial, gender, and ethnic disparity gaps. If this sounds interesting, read more to find out everything about the highs and lows of going to high school. 

The Top 10 Fundamental High School Statistics

  • Public primary and secondary school enrollment will reach 51.4 million by 2028.
  • In 2019, the Academic Magnet High School in North Charleston was ranked number one in the national rankings. 
  • In 2016, 92.9% of high school students acquired a high school diploma or an alternative credential. 
  • There were 2.1 million high school dropouts in 2017, representing 5.4% of the total enrollment numbers.
  • According to high school statistics, the national savings would reach $18.5 billion annually if the high school graduation rate for males increased by 5 p.p.
  • Economic models show that there would be a $3.1 billion increase in annual earnings if the high school graduation rate reached 90%.
  • High school graduates earn an average of $8,000 more than high school dropouts annually.
  • High school graduates have a lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases than dropouts.
  • 3.8% of high school students carry a weapon on school premises.
  • In 2017, high schoolers had the highest suicide rate since 1960.

High School Graduation Statistics

1. In 2016, the on-time graduation rates were the highest in Iowa and the lowest in the District of Columbia. 


According to a report by NCES, the graduation rates for the public schools in the US were lowest in the District of Columbia, which had the worst national score of 69%. Conversely, in Iowa, the on-time graduation rate was 91%, making it the state with the most successful high schools in that year. Furthermore, 36 American states had on-time graduation scores that were between 80–90%, contributing to the national average of 84%. 

2. A high school diploma or an alternative credential was held by 92.9% of the enrolled high school students, statistics from the 2016 show.


The completion rate for high school students between 16 and 24 was 92.9% in 2016. This means that most of the students who enrolled in high school received their high school diploma or obtained other equivalent credentials. 

Therefore, around 26.1 million of the 28 million enrolled students completed their high school education. These completion rates are five p.p. higher than in 2006, and nine p.p. higher than in 1976. By region, the Northeast had the highest (95%), and the South the lowest (92%) completion rate. 

3. High school graduation rates by gender show that female students have higher completion rates than male students. 


In 2016, almost traditionally, female students of every ethnicity except Asians had higher completion rates than their male counterparts in the US. In white students, the rates of female students who graduated vs. male high school graduates were 95.1 vs. 93.8%, whereas, in black and Hispanic students, they were 95.5% vs. 88.7%, and 91.3% vs. 86.8%, respectively. 

For Asian high schoolers aged 18–24, as well as for Alaska Natives and American Indians, there was no observed gender-related difference in the graduation rates. The same was true for students of mixed ethnicity. 

4. High school graduation rates are lower than average for students with economic disadvantages, disabilities, and limited English proficiency.


Economically disadvantaged high school students had lower graduation rates (78%) than the national average (84%). For these students, the worst rates were recorded in Nevada and New Mexico (67%), and the best in Michigan (88%).

On the other hand, children with limited English language proficiency had graduation rates of 67%, varying from 32% in Arizona to 93% in West Virginia. Students with disabilities had the lowest graduation rate of 66%, ranging from 29% in Nevada to 84% in Arkansas.

5. According to high school statistics, in 2015, approximately 27,000 individuals obtained a HiSET diploma — an alternative credential to the high school diploma.


In 2015, about 62,000 individuals aged 16 or older had at least one High School Equivalency Test (HiSET). 27,000 individuals (58%) had obtained HiSET, following NCES data from 2015. This test was available in 16 American states.

General Educational Development (GED) tests are also available as an alternative to high school credentials, and around 816,000 individuals had taken GED tests by 2013. The passing rate for this year was 76%. Another alternative test called Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) was solicited by 50,000 individuals in 2015, with a passing rate of 60%.

6. The US would see a $3.1 billion increase in annual earnings if high school graduation rates reached 90%.

(America’s Promise)

Following estimations of the economic model called the “graduation effect,” the economic benefits of an increased education rate are apparent. As per calculations following this model, if the national graduation rate in the US reaches 90%, it will lead to an overall increase of the annual earnings for Americans of about $3.1 billion. 

Moreover, the increase in graduation rates will lead to 14,000 new jobs each year and additional savings in the healthcare sector that amounts to $16.1 billion per year. When adding the reduction in crime to this equation, the benefits of higher graduation rates become even more apparent. 

7. US education statistics show that the US would save up to $18.5 billion annually if the high school graduation rate for males increased by 5 p.p.


Communities spend twice as much on incarcerating individuals than on education ($12,643 vs. $28,323 per individual in 2018, respectively). The economic benefits in terms of crime-related savings can be, on average, $18.5 billion per year if the male graduation rate goes up by five p.p. Furthermore, a 10 p.p. increase in this graduation rate will reduce arson by 8%, motor vehicle theft by 13%, and murder and assault arrests by a staggering 20%. 

8. High school statistics show that graduates earn an average of $8,000 more than high school dropouts every year. 

(BLS, America’s promise)

Also, the data for the end of 2019, obtained by the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), shows that full-time employees aged 25 and over had a median weekly wage of $975, those without a high school education earned around $606, and high school graduates earned $749 per week. 

9. Surprising high school facts show that high school graduates have a lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases than dropouts.


The lifespans of those who graduated from high school are longer and healthier than those without a high school degree. Namely, the heart disease statistics show that the chances of a male dropout aged 45–85 to develop CVD are 59%, whereas, for male high school graduates, they are 42.2%. Conversely, women without a high school diploma had a 50% chance of developing CVD, in contrast to graduated women, whose risk of developing CVD was only 28%.

High School Dropout Statistics

10. In 2017, there were around 2.1 million status dropouts, representing 5.4% of the total enrollment numbers.


The National Center for Education Statistics reveals that 532,000 out of 11.2 million students aged 15–24 had left school, as per Current Population Survey (CPS). These statistics show a constant decline in dropout rates, which were at 14.1% 40 years ago (in the year 1980). The US department of education revealed that, in 2017, 5.4% of the young population aged 16–24 were considered as high school dropouts.

11. One of the biggest high school dropout reasons is the inability to pass 9th grade. 

(Alliance for Education)

Up to 40% of ninth-graders living in cities with high dropout rates repeat this grade. What’s more, only 10–15% of them manage to graduate. These figures show that the ninth grade is like a dropout filter for students with low-level academic skills, regardless of their demographic characteristics. Finding their abilities insufficient to complete this grade, over one-third of high school dropouts feel lost. This makes the quality of coursework the perfect indicator of potential graduation. 

12. In 2106, the high school dropout rate between black and white students in the US was virtually the same.      


In 2016, for the first time since 1976, the black-white racial disparity in high school dropout rates in the US was measured as insignificant, as stated by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). This gap was slowly shrinking over the years, from the reported 8.5 p.p. in 1976 to 1.9 p.p. in 2015. 

White students had a median dropout rate of 4.5%, while the black students had a dropout rate of 5.9%. Although in 13 states the rates are comparable, there isn’t a single state where blacks have lower dropout rates than white students.

13. High school dropout rates by gender show that, in 2016, the difference between male and female dropout rates was 2.1 percentage points.


The American Community Survey (ACS) stats for 2016 show that female students had a lower dropout rate than male students — 4.7%  vs. 6.8%, respectively. However, the gender gap observed in the US in 2016 is smaller than the records for 2006 (3.4 p.p.), 2011 (2.8 p.p.), and 2015 (2 p.p.). There has been a gradual narrowing of the gender disparities in terms of dropout rates over the years. 

14. In 2016, the high school dropout rates by state varied from 8.7% in Louisiana to 2.7% in North Dakota.


Statistics for 2016 reveal that the highest dropout percentage of high-schoolers aged 16–24 was noted in Louisiana (8.7%) and the lowest in North Dakota (2.7%). The NCES figures also show that 12 states in the South and four in the West had dropout rates, which are higher than the national average for those aged 16–24. In comparison, only 16 states, plus the District of Columbia, had a dropout rate lower than the annual average for 2016. 

15. High school stats reveal that only 50% of teen mothers obtain their diploma before turning 22.

(CDC, Power to decide)

The 2017 figures published by the CDC show that 194,377 babies were born to teenage mothers between 15–19 years. In 2017, Arkansas was the state with the most teen pregnancies, with a birth rate of 32.8 births per 1,000 teens. 

These numbers are historically a record low, but the US remains a country with the highest teen pregnancy rates of all Western countries. Only 50% of teenage mothers can acquire their high school diploma before 22, whereas this rate is 90% for women who are not pregnant. 

16. High school relationship statistics reveal that a lack of positive academic and social engagement is an indicator of an eventual dropout.

(Alliance for Education, BBC)

Besides academic achievement, parental support and peer relationships have a major influence on high school students. This study included 125 students aged 15–18 years, at a school with a high dropout rate and found that half of the students were in daily contact with pupils who had a negative attitude towards school. This, besides parental involvement, has been identified as a major factor in dropping out of school.

17. Aggression can lead someone to become a high school dropout, statistics from the 2018 show.

(Science Daily)

There is a strong connection between high levels of aggression in students, academic success, and dropout rates. Researchers claim that this find proves that students who drop out of school are not just faced with academic challenges, but also with complex behavioral problems like aggression. 

In this study, researchers rated 620 sixth graders for seven years according to their academic skills and aggression levels. Results showed that the pupils who were classified as having high aggression/low study skills had a staggering 50% dropout rate, compared with other groups where the dropout rate was only 2%. 

18. When it comes to high school dropouts and crime, statistics reveal that those who left school are 63% more likely to be institutionalized. 

(AFEE Report)

Although dropping out of school doesn’t necessarily mean that these individuals are not law-abiding citizens, it almost certainly guarantees a higher chance of being arrested and incarcerated. 

High school dropouts aged 16–24 have a 63% higher chance of being incarcerated than those who acquired a higher educational degree (bachelor of more). Experts believe that the time spent in a classroom delivers upon its educational purpose and installs crime-preventing values in students.

Safety and Stress in High School: Statistics and Facts

19. In 2017, high schoolers had the highest suicide rate since 1960.

(LA Times, America’s Health Rankings)

In 2017, there were 1,225 suicides among females and 5,016 suicides among males aged between 15 and 24. JAMA reported that 2017 was the year with the highest youth suicide rate in the US recent history since the US government began the collection of these statistics (1960).  

In this year, 17.2 % of high school students seriously considered attempting suicide, and 7.4 % attempted it. For young girls and women, the suicide rate had doubled since 2000, while the CDC data shows a significant increase in suicide rates in boys in the last four years.

20. High school stress statistics show that school-related stress caused symptoms of headache in 32% of teens in 2013.


An online survey, including 1,018 students aged 13–17 in 2013, showed surprising results about the stress levels to which American teenagers are exposed. Namely, 83% of them indicated that school was their primary source of stress, causing symptoms of headache in 32%, indigestion in 21%, and skipping a meal in 23% of the surveyed pupils. Their stress levels were comparable to those of adults and even higher. Furthermore, stress caused insomnia in 35%, tiredness in 36%, and depression in 30% of the students.

21. High school stress statistics from 2018 show that anxiety and depression are major problems for 70% of students.

(Nea Today)

A 2018 survey of students aged 13-17 confirmed that this age group is becoming increasingly more depressive and anxious. Furthermore, alcohol abuse was a major concern for 45% and drug addiction for 51% of the surveyed students. 

Depression and anxiety were the biggest problems of this age group, with the mental health statistics confirming the results of this survey. Symptoms of these conditions include feelings of dread, jumpiness, panic attacks, headaches, stomach problems, shortness of breath, and fatigue.

22. High school stress statistics from 2019 expose homework as one of the main causes of mental imbalance among students.

(BHLS News)

High schoolers are on the verge of burnout due to their homework. With an average homework workload of 3.1 hours per day, the students are having trouble incorporating any extracurricular activity. 

What’s more, researchers from Stanford University discovered that having two hours of homework per night is counterproductive, let alone homework that takes three hours or more, because it leads to record stress levels in the high school population.

23. According to statistics, high school bullying is very common, and the victims are usually female. 


The statistics from 2017, obtained in a study involving 14,956 high school students nationwide, revealed that female students are the victims in the majority of cases. Notably, 24.6% of the white non-Hispanic female students in the private and public US high schools were bullied in the school year 2016–2017, making them the most victimized category. 

Around 21% of the female Hispanic students and 14.5% of black female students were bullied during that year. The percentages for white, Hispanic, and black male students are 18.1%, 11.8%, and 11.8%, respectively. The total difference between sexes for all races was 3.3 percentage points.

24. Statistics about high school students reveal that 3.8% of them brought a weapon on school premises.


A survey in the school year 2016–2017 revealed that as much as 3.8% of all high school students carry a weapon on the school property. The biggest share of those (5.9%) for that school year was among white male students, and the smallest percentage (1.7%) were black and white female students.

Around 5.5% of black male students and 4.5% of Hispanic male students admitted to bringing a weapon on school premises during the school year. The difference between male and female students regarding this subject is significant, and for this school year was 3.7 p.p. 

25. Current high school trends show that the Adderall abuse rate is on the rise.

(US News, Drug Free)

One way to cope with increasing workloads and peer pressure is the abuse of prescription drugs such as Adderall. Conceived as a medication for the treatment of ADHD, Adderall is a nerve stimulant that boosts focus, memory, and energy

The pharmaceutical statistics show that the use of Adderall has been on the rise, especially among high school seniors, out of which, 7.5% reported using it in 2015. The abuse of Adderall increased steadily since 2009, where 5.4% of high school students abuse it. In 2010 and 2011, the rate went to 6.5%, and in 2013 it reached 7.4%.

High School Statistics and Trends

26. By 2028, 51.4 million students will have enrolled in a public primary or secondary school.


Around 50.7 million students enrolled in a public primary or secondary school in the fall of 2018. The numbers have been continuously rising since 2013 when there were 55.4 million enrolled students. In 2028, the number of enrollees will reach 51.4 million, according to high school student trends

The US department of education for the school year 2019–2020 reveals that around 15.3 million will attend grades nine to 12. Out of these, some 3.7 million students are expected to graduate from high school within this school year, with 300,000 students from private, and 3.4 million from public schools.

27. When it comes to going back to school, trends from 2019 reveal that the number of racial minority students in public schools will have increased by 2028.


The NCES data shows that, ever since 2014, less than half of the students attending public schools are white, and this number is expected to continue to decrease over the next few years, at least until 2028, along with the numbers of Pacific Islanders, American Indians, Alaska Natives. 

Conversely, the percentage of Asian, Hispanic, and mixed-race students is expected to increase, which isn’t the case with the number of black students, which is expected to stagnate until 2028. 

28. High school trends show that there are 2–8% more homeschooled students per year.


In 2019, there were 2.5 million homeschooled students, from kindergarten to 12th grade, and these numbers are getting bigger by 2–8% each year. Estimations show that approximately 5.7 million Americans were homeschooled at least during one year of their school days. 

Homeschooling is going mainstream because of the reasons behind this trend are financial, score-related, and safety-related. The home-educated score is, on average, 15–30 percentage points above the public-school students on standardized academic tests. 

29. The Academic Magnet High School in North Charleston is ranked number one, according to the American high school ranking for 2019. 

(The Philadelphia Inquirer, US News) 

In 2019, the US News & World Report ranked the Academic Magnet High School in North Charleston as the best US high school on the national level. Approximately 17,000 schools were ranked following six-factor criteria that included the test-performances, graduation scores, and college preparations. The Academic Magnet School had a 100% graduation rate in 2019 when  658 high school students enrolled. 

30. When it comes to high school relationships, facts show that the percentage of 12th-graders who are dating is twice lower than in 1976.

(Child Trends)

The share of those who are dating in 12th grade fell from 33% in 1976 to 14% in 2017. Similarly, students in the eighth and tenth grades were less likely to date than their counterparts in 1992. However, the difference was most significant in the high school students in the 12th grade, where the share of those who are not dating increased from 15% in 1992 to 49% in 2017. For 10th-graders, this percentage went from 28% to 55% and for 8th graders, from 47% to 71%.

31. When it comes to high school sweetheart marriage, the divorce rate is estimated at 54% in the first 10 years of marriage.

(Men’s Divorce)

The Institute for Family Studies showed that marriages made at the age of 25 are 50% less likely to end up in a divorce than the marriages made when couples are 20 years of age. The data confirms the notion that marrying a high school sweetheart was more of a trend in the older generations than it is in the present. 

What’s more, millennials have the lowest percentage of marriages. This trend of waiting until the late twenties (29 for men and 27 for women) may save marriages that are related to inexperience and immaturity.

32. High school trends from 2018 show that students from high-income schools have a 25% higher chance of enrolling in college than those from low-income schools.

(NSC Research Center)

A 2018 study showed that high school students from high-income schools were 25% more likely to enroll in college immediately after high-school graduation (69%) than the students from low-income schools (55%). The results from the survey also revealed that this gap is still persistent two years after high school graduation. 

Around 53% of students from high-income schools obtained their college degrees within six years of graduation. Conversely, only 21% of students from low-income schools obtained a degree within six years of the same period.


Why do students drop out of high school?

The major reasons for dropping out of high school in the US include academic failure, being motivated or capable of keeping up with the workload, poor class attendance, boredom, disengagement, pregnancy, financial difficulties, a mental illness such as depression, substance abuse, different disabilities, taking care of a disabled person, and conflict with peers or teachers.

What is the high school dropout rate?

In the US, the latest recorded dropout rate — according to the American Education Services data — was 5.4% in 2017. The dropout rate is the percentage of the American population between the ages of 16 and 24 that enrolled in high school but stopped attending it.

How to increase graduation rates in high school?

Some strategies that have been proven to give results in student-retention include monitoring the progress of all students individually and intervening as soon as the first signs of disengagement, behavior, and attendance linked to dropping out are remarked. 

Other strategies include offering intensive individualized support for students who have fallen behind in the school curriculum and face big issues in keeping up with new courses and exams, encouraging parents to show support and motivate the students, and avoiding bad influences among pupils.

What is AP statistics in high school?

Advanced Placement Statistics or AP Statistics are indicators of how many high school students take in-depth or higher-level courses on various subject areas in order to obtain extra credits when enrolling in colleges or universities. AP courses are intensive preparatory studies designed to get students ready for the AP exam. 

These students have a higher chance for extra credit and advanced placement in colleges and universities, based on their scores for this exam. The College Board offers AP classes, and the tests usually take place in May every year. Although policies may vary among higher education institutions, they usually take into consideration the AP notes when deciding on student admissions. 

Why are high school graduation rates important?

On a national level, the effects of graduation are shown to be beneficial in increasing the annual earnings of Americans by several billion dollars. They also add to the creation of new jobs and reduce healthcare costs. Furthermore, graduates are less likely to get involved in criminal activities and, at the same time, are eligible to constitute the military force of America.

On a personal level, individuals who obtained their high school diploma can look forward to a greater chance of being employed in physically less demanding job positions, which leads to higher life expectancy and economic status.

What happens to high school dropouts?

Recent trends in unemployment show that high school dropouts are almost three times more likely to be unemployed than individuals with college diplomas. Furthermore, the high school dropouts are condemned to lower economic success than those who graduated. 

Namely, $8000 per year annually is the wage gap between graduates and dropouts. What’s more, 16-24-year-old dropouts are 63 times more likely to end up in jail than those who obtained high-level education. Additionally, single motherhood is seen as both a cause and consequence of dropping out of high school, according to the high school statistics. Moreover, 22.6% of girls that left school are now single mothers. 


Graduating from high school is a challenge that is worth taking when we have in mind the benefits displayed by the presented figures. Longer life expectancy, higher economic status, better employment, and better marriage outcomes are just a few of them.

Nationwide, higher graduation rates mean less criminal activity, greater economic power, and more jobs. However, actions are still needed to identify and prevent the behavior leading to dropping out, as displayed in these high school statistics.   


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