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Chart: Latinos are driving a huge decline in the high school dropout rate

Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

One piece of good news in American education that doesn't get a lot of attention: the high school dropout rate is the lowest it's ever been. About 80 percent of high school freshmen go on to earn a diploma, the highest in history. And just 7 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds have less than a high school education.

Who's driven this trend? Hispanic students. The Hispanic dropout rate is still higher than the rate for students from other racial groups, but it's much lower than it was a generation ago, according to this chart from the Pew Research Center:

pew research center chart on high school dropouts

It's especially striking because the proportion of American students who are Hispanic has risen sharply during that time frame. To put it another way, in 2000, three Hispanic students had recently completed high school for every one who dropped out, according to Pew. Now nine times as many finish high school as drop out.

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