Nearly Half of Blacks, Latinos Drop Out, School Study Shows

Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times, Mar. 24

Nearly half of the Latino and African American students who should have graduated from California high schools in 2002 failed to complete their education, according to a Harvard University report released Wednesday.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District, the situation was even worse, with just 39% of Latinos and 47% of African Americans graduating, compared with 67% of whites and 77% of Asians.

The report concluded that the public remains largely unaware of the true extent of the problem because the state uses “misleading and inaccurate” methods to report dropout and graduation rates.

The California Department of Education reported that 87% of students graduated in 2002, but researchers pegged the rate at just 71%. Nationally, about 68% of students graduate on time, according to the analysis.

The troubling graduation rates are most alarming in minority communities, where students are more likely to attend what researchers call “dropout factories.”

The exodus of tens of thousands of students before 12th grade is exacting significant social and economic costs through higher unemployment, increased crime and billions of dollars in lost revenue, according to the report by researchers from Harvard, Johns Hopkins, UCLA and UC Santa Barbara, among others.

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