Tag Archives: high school graduation rate in America

Not Broken! – Part 2/5

I’ll start with 1900 when the total number of high-school graduates in the US numbered 16,000 of 815,000 seventeen-year olds.

In 1920, 311,000 graduated from high school or 16.8% of the total which was 1,855,000

In 1940, 1,221,000 or 50,8% of 2,403,000 graduated.

In 1960, 1,858,000 or 69.5% of 2,672,000 graduated.

In 1980, 3,043,000 or 71.4% of 4,262,000 graduated.


After 1970, high school graduation rates for 17/18 year olds level off and fluctuated but not by much.

In fact, in 2009, 75.5% of high school students that started ninth grade as freshman graduated from high school at age 17/18.

Furthermore, in 2009, eighty-nine-point-eight (89.8%) percent of 18 through 24-year-olds not enrolled in high school had earned a high school degree or earned a high-school diploma or a GED after leaving high school.

A GED is a 7 hour test on five-subject areas. Every few years a number of graduating high-school students is selected to take the GED. In order to be awarded a GED, a candidate must do better on the test than 60% of the graduating high-school seniors who took the test.

Take another look at the two numbers that represent graduation from US secondary schools before we compare public education in the United States to other countries:

A. 75.5% (age 17/18)

B. 89.9% (ages 18 – 24)

In 2008, the media reported that the US high school graduation rate was lower than ten countries but this was misleading as you will discover: Source: This list comes from a CNN Blog called Global Public Square. However, I have added more information from other reputable sources.

Note: the first number is the reported total graduation rate but it is often misleading once the facts are known. In addition, remember this: the US public schools do not offer vocational programs that lead to a secondary-school diploma (high school). In the US, programs that lead to graduation from high school are mostly academic—not vocational.

The need for Vocational Education Funding in the public schools

Top Ten List as it was reported in the media:

1. The United Kingdom (92%—In the UK, compulsory education for all children goes from their fifth birthday to the year they turn 16. In addition, one-half of British universities have lost confidence in A grades that are awarded by secondary schools and require many applicants to sit for a competitive entrance examination, and one out of five English adults [20%] are functionally illiterate telling us that graduation rates in the UK mean little to nothing in a comparison of this type—yet the United Kingdom boasts the highest secondary-school graduation rate without any mention of vocational programs)

2. Switzerland (90%, but only 30% completed the general academic program while 71% completed a vocational program toward secondary school graduation—there must be some overlap where students that complete the academic path complete a vocational program too)

3. Norway (78% below age 25 and 92% above age 25, but only 60% completed the academic program, while 38% completed a vocational program toward secondary school graduation)

4. South Korea (89%, but only 66% completed the academic program, while 23% completed a vocational program)

5. Japan (95%, but only 72% completed the academic program, while 23% completed a vocational program toward secondary graduation)

6. Italy (80%, but only 35% completed the academic program, while 59% completed a vocational program)

7. Ireland (90% before age 25 and 91% after age 25, but only 70% completed the academic program, while 62% completed a vocational program with some students completing both)

8. Germany (84%, but only 39% completed the academic program, while 45% completed a vocational program)

9. Finland (84% before age 25 and 95% after age 25, but only 48% complete the academic program, while 94% completed a vocational program with some students completing both)

10. Denmark (75% before age 25 and 85% after age 25, but only 55% complete the general academic program, while 47% complete a vocational program). Source:

Continued on September 3, 2012 in Not Broken! – Part 3 or return to Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

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