Thursday, August 06, 2020


Article Index

 A. Graduation Rates

The overall graduation rate of African-American students is deplorable. For example, the national graduation rate in 1998 for white students was 78%, whereas African-American students' graduation rate was 56%. In 2001, the national graduation rate for African-American males was 56.2%, which is a minimal increase from the percentage three years prior. In some school districts, the graduation rate for African-American males is substantially less than the national rate.

In virtually every state, regardless of which part of the country, African-American males' graduation rate is disproportionately lower than whites. Interestingly, the graduation rate of African-American males is lower in the Northeast than in the South. With the long history of racial segregation in the South, the thought would be that their graduation rate would be lower than in any other region of the country.

Recent reports by The Schott Foundation for Public Education and the Urban Institute's Education Policy Center, vividly reveal the disparity between the graduation rates of African-American males and white students. Similar to other studies, both studies report that on a national level African-American males graduated at a rate of 45%, while the graduation rate for white males was 70%. When one reviews the graduation rates of African-American males in each state, the disparity is startling. For example, African-American males in *16 states such as Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and New York have a graduation rate of less than 55%.

*17 African-American males are in lower grades than white students based on their age. In addition, African-American males are more likely to repeat grades than white males. These factors may impact African-American male student desire to remain in school and graduate. Moreover, African-American males rarely graduate valedictorians of their high school class; nor are they recognized for scholastic achievements.

The failure of public schools to educate African-American males, starting in elementary school, may ultimately impact their high school graduation rate. Their negative educational experience in turn affects their employment abilities. Surprisingly, many school districts do not collect statistical data on various sub-groups, e.g. African-American males, thus making it difficult to track and verify racial and gender graduation disparities in the school system. Consequently, the graduation rates and progress of African-American males in public schools may be worse than what is presently reported.

Vernellia R. Randall
Founder and Editor
Professor Emerita of Law
The University of Dayton School of Law