Leaving Boys Behind: Public High School Graduation Rates

Sarah Kim

Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters
Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
April 2006

Leaving Boys Behind is a misnomer. What purports to be a study on the gender gap is actually a discussion about the methodology of calculating graduation rates and about the methodology's results. The authors used enrollment and diploma counts from the U.S. Department of Education's Common Core of Data (CCD) to determine public high school graduation rates for the nation, individual states, and the hundred largest school districts. These statistics are further broken down by race and gender. Overall, about 70 percent of the class of 2003 earned a high school diploma. While 78 percent of white students and 72 percent of Asian students graduated, the picture is even more disastrous for other ethnic groups. Only 53 percent of Hispanic students and 55 percent of African-American left high school with diplomas. The gender gap is real, too. Females are graduating at higher rates than males, most significantly among minorities (58 percent of Hispanic females and 59 percent of African-American females graduate, while only 49 percent and 48 percent, respectively, of males in each group do). Results in the big urban districts are especially devastating. But the report offers no analysis. That boys are under-performing is hardly news (see here and here), and the minority achievement gap is never far off the radar. But what accounts for this gender gap? Can anything slow the downward spiral? The answers are beyond the scope of this report as the authors readily admit. Check out this report for the latest statistics, but look elsewhere for a more in-depth analysis of what may actually be leaving the boys behind.