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LEAVING BOYS BEHIND: New Report Finds Higher High School Graduation Rates for Females Across Every Racial Subgroup

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“It’s a fairly large difference, particularly when you consider that unlike differences across racial and ethnic groups, boys and girls are raised in the same households, so it’s not so easy to explain the differences by their community, or their income level,” said co-author Jay P. Greene,

Females graduate from high school at a higher rate than their male classmates, according to the latest analysis from the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. The report, Leaving Boys Behind: Public High School Graduation Rates, continues a series that the Manhattan Institute has published on high school graduation rates that began with the class of 2001. It is the first of these reports to include data broken down by gender. It also examines graduation rates for the 100 largest school districts in the United States. Overall, the report pegged the graduation rate for the class of 2003 at 70%, a 1% decrease from the class of 2002’s graduation rate. As it has done in the past, the Manhattan Institute reports on the large gap between the graduation rates of white (78%) and Asian students (72%) and those of African-American (55%) and Hispanic students (53%).

In 41 out of the 42 states for which data was available, females graduated from high school at higher rates than their male classmates. Nationwide, females graduated at a rate 7% higher than males. The largest differences were in Delaware (71% for females versus 59% for males), Louisiana (69% vs. 58%), and Georgia (61% vs. 51%). North Dakota is the only state where females did not graduate at a higher rate than males: both females and males graduated at 86%. Among male minorities, graduation rates for the class of 2003 were especially dismal. For example, African-American males graduated at a rate 11 percentage points below their female classmates, as the chart below demonstrates.

 

Females

Males

Difference

African American

59%

48%

11%

Asian

73%

70%

3%

Hispanic

58%

49%

9%

White

79%

74%

5%

Overall

72%

65%

7%

 

“It’s a fairly large difference, particularly when you consider that unlike differences across racial and ethnic groups, boys and girls are raised in the same households, so it’s not so easy to explain the differences by their community, or their income level,” said co-author Jay P. Greene, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and endowed chair and head of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas.

As in the past, the report ranks states according to their graduation rates. Once again, New Jersey had the highest graduation rate in the country, at 88%. It was followed by Iowa, Wisconsin, and North Dakota, each at 85%. The states with the lowest graduation rates were South Carolina (54%), Georgia (56%), and New York (58%). The report also finds that, although some states performed well overall, they performed poorly when it came to graduating certain subgroups of students. For example, Wisconsin had the third-highest graduation rate in the country but only graduated 46% of its African-American students, ranking it 32 out of 33 states for which information was available. On the other hand, Texas, which ranked 36th overall, had the fifth-highest graduation rate for African-American students (67%).

In another new feature, the report provides graduation rates for the 100 largest school districts in the United States and breaks data down by student subgroup. Not surprisingly, the report finds that low graduation rates are a particular problem in the nation’s most populated school districts. “None of the nation’s ten largest school systems, which over 8% of U.S. public school children attend, graduates more than 60% of its students,” it reads.

The Ten Largest School Districts in the U.S.

State
School District

Enrollment

Graduation Rate

NY

New York City Public Schools

1,077,381

43%

CA

Los Angeles Unified

746,852

51%

IL

City of Chicago School District 299

436,048

50%

FL

Dade County School District

373,395

55%

NV

Clark County School District

256,574

56%

TX

Houston Independent School District

212,099

56%

PA

Philadelphia City School District

192,683

58%

FL

Hillsborough County School District

175,454

59%

MI

Detroit City School District

173,742

42%

FL

Palm Beach County School District

164,896

60%

 

The complete report is available at http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_48.htm.

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