Personal tools
You are here: Home Research K-12 Education School Dropouts Dropouts in the South: Confronting the Graduation Rate Crisis

Dropouts in the South: Confronting the Graduation Rate Crisis

Authors: The Civil Rights Project
Date Published: May 19, 2005

The social consequences of this crisis are devastating. The nation loses millions of dollars each year in revenue and taxes because of the high numbers of unemployed and underemployed dropouts. High school dropouts are swelling our nation’s overcrowded prisons, where 68% of inmates have not completed high school. Communities with large numbers of high school dropouts experience overwhelming problems of poverty, incarceration, unemployment, drug abuse and addiction, and intergenerational dependency.
Related Documents

May 19, 2005

Confronting the Graduation Rate Crisis in the South

by The Civil Rights Project

Executive Summary:

Every year, across the country, a dangerously high percentage of students—disproportionately poor and minority—disappear from the educational pipeline before graduating from high school. According to a study released by The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University (CRP) and the Urban Institute in 2004, only about 68% of all students nationally who enter 9th grade will graduate “on time” with regular diplomas in 12th grade. While the graduation rate for White students is 75%, only approximately half of Black, Latino, and Native American students earn regular diplomas alongside their classmates. Graduation rates are even lower for minority males. Yet, because of misleading and inaccurate reporting of dropout and graduation rates, and an exclusive preoccupation with testing data, the public remains largely unaware of this educational and civil rights crisis.

This crisis is particularly acute in Southern states, which have some of the lowest overall graduation rates in the country. The South is a critical region to examine because it has a very large and rapidly growing population and has always been home to a majority of African Americans. In addition, several southern states are now in the epicenter of a huge Latino migration. The region also has a history of racial inequality including unlawful school segregation. As pointed out in this report, two independent studies show a high correlation between racially and socio-economically segregated schools and very low graduation rates. Not surprisingly, the research shows that poor, racially isolated Whites have low graduation rates that are nearly identical to poor, racially isolated Blacks. Nationally, few predominantly White schools have concentrated poverty, but there are significant numbers of these in parts of the rural South.

According to new estimates compiled by Christopher Swanson of the Urban Institute, the Southern region (defined here as sixteen states and the District of Columbia that practiced legally imposed segregation prior to Brown v. Board of Education: West Virginia, D.C., Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Virginia) graduated only 64.5% of its students in 2002, or several points lower than the national average. Minority students fared far worse. Only 55.3% of Blacks and 56.3% of Latinos graduated on time with their peers, as compared with 70.5% of whites, and 82.2% of Asians.

In this report, we give special attention to five southern states -- Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and North Carolina. These states report graduation rates in 2002 ranging from a high of 85% in North Carolina to a low of 61.8% in Georgia. When a more accurate measurement, the Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI) was used, the graduation rates for these five states dipped far lower than these official estimates. In keeping with the national trend, graduation rates for Black and Latino students in these five states are substantially lower still. In Georgia, which has a substantial and growing Latino population, the rates for Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans were all below 50%.

Black, Native American and Latino males fared worst of all. Across the Southern region, the graduation rate for Black males averages only 47.4%, and 50.9% for Latinos. In only one of the five special focus states—Louisiana—did more than half (51.1%) of Black males graduate on time. In Florida, Black males had the lowest graduation rate out of the five states, a mere 38.3%. Of the two states where data on Native Americans males is available, North Carolina had a graduation rate of just 31.7%.

Document Actions

Copyright © 2010 UC Regents