Hispanics and the GED

Richard Fry, Pew Hispanic Center, May 13, 2010

Just one-in-ten Hispanic high school dropouts has a General Educational Development (GED) credential, widely regarded as the best “second chance” pathway to college, vocational training and military service for adults who have not graduated from high school. By contrast, two-in-ten black high school dropouts and three-in-ten white high school dropouts have a GED, according to a Pew Hispanic Center analysis of newly available educational attainment data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey.

The relatively low level of GED credentialing among Hispanic high school dropouts is especially notable because Hispanics have a much higher high school dropout rate than do blacks or whites. Some 41% of Hispanics ages 20 and older in the United States do not have a regular high school diploma, versus 23% of comparably aged blacks and 14% of whites.

Among Hispanics, there are significant differences between the foreign born and the native born in high school diploma attainment rates and GED credentialing rates. Some 52% of foreign-born Latino adults are high school dropouts, compared with 25% of the native born. And among Hispanic dropouts, some 21% of the native born have a GED, compared with just 5% of the foreign born.

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* However, Hispanic full-time, full-year workers with a GED had about the same mean annual earnings ($33,504) as Hispanic full-time, full-year workers with a high school diploma ($32,972).

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