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Change Indicator

High school students not graduating on time in United States

High school students not graduating on time

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Note: Non-consecutive years appear adjacent in the trend line
because one or more years have been deselected.

Why This Indicator Matters

Students who graduate from high school on time are more likely to continue to postsecondary education and training; they are more employable and have higher incomes than students who fail to graduate. High school graduates also have better health outcomes, make healthier choices and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors.

This indicator is included in the KIDS COUNT Child Well-Being Index. Read the KIDS COUNT Data Book to learn more:
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Definition and Source



The percentage of an entering freshman class not graduating in four years. The measure is derived from the Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR). The four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate is the number of students who graduate in four years with a regular high school diploma divided by the number of students who form the adjusted cohort for the graduating class. Students entering grade 9 for the first time form a cohort that is “adjusted” by adding any students who subsequently transfer into the cohort and subtracting any students who subsequently transfer out.

Data Source

Population Reference Bureau, analysis of data from U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES), National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Digest of Education Statistics, accessible online at


S - Estimates have been suppressed. 
N.A. – Data not available.
As of May 2014, only percentages are publicly available.

State educational agencies were allowed to change requirements for a high school diploma to account for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, therefore caution should be used when interpreting changes between 2019–20 and prior years of data. Due to data quality concerns and late delivery of data, in 2019-2020, the national estimate was calculated using imputed data for Illinois and Texas. Estimates for Illinois and Texas are based on data provided directly by each state's education agency.

Last Updated

April 2023