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Study: 1 in 10 Latino high school dropouts earn GED

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • At 41 percent, Latinos have higher high school dropout rate than blacks, whites, study finds
  • Study finds differences between Latinos born in United States and those born abroad
  • For foreign-born Latinos, "it takes a little bit of time to figure things out," researcher says
  • Pew Hispanic Center, which conducted study, says report's timing unrelated to Arizona law

Washington (CNN) -- Just one in 10 Latino high school dropouts earns a high school equivalency degree, compared with two in 10 African-American dropouts and three in 10 white dropouts, the Pew Hispanic Center said Thursday.

The equivalency degree, called the General Educational Development (GED) credential, "is widely regarded as the best 'second chance' pathway to college, vocational training and military service for adults who do not graduate from high school," the center said on its website.

Latinos also have a much higher high school drop-out rate than blacks or whites. About 41 percent of Latinos 20 and older in the United States do not have a regular high school diploma, compared with 23 percent of black adults and 14 percent of white adults, Pew said.

Among Latinos, Pew noted, significant differences exist between those who were born in another country and those born in the United States. About 52 percent of foreign-born Latino adults are high school dropouts, compared with 25 percent of the native born, Pew said.

Among Latino dropouts, about 21 percent of those born in the United States have a GED, compared with 5 percent of those born abroad, the research center said.

A greater percentage of U.S.-born Latinos obtain GEDs because they are more aware of the opportunities available to them, said Richard Fry, the Pew Hispanic Center researcher who compiled the report.


"For the foreign-born, it takes them a little bit of time to learn about the GED," Fry told CNN. "It takes a little bit of time to figure things out."

Fry said he obtained the information by performing an analysis of newly available educational attainment data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2008 American Community Survey. That Census Bureau survey was the first to differentiate between those who graduated from high school and those who obtained a GED, Fry said. Previous surveys had lumped both categories together.

The Pew analysis also found that in 2008, Latino adults with a GED had a higher unemployment rate than those with a high school diploma -- 9 percent versus 7 percent. However, the report said, Latino full-time, full-year workers with a GED had about the same mean annual earnings ($33,504) as full-time, full-year Latino workers with a high school diploma ($32,972).

The Pew Hispanic Center is a nonpartisan research organization that does not take positions on policy issues.

Release of the report comes amid heightened tensions over a recent Arizona law that requires immigrants to carry their registration documents at all times and allows police to question individuals' immigration status in the process of enforcing any other law or ordinance.

Opponents have called for an Arizona tourism boycott and the measure has drawn criticism from Mexico and several Latin American nations.

Fry said timing of the report's release was coincidental.

"There's nothing magical about it," he said. "The report's been done for about a week or so and it was time to get it out the door."

CNN's Arthur Brice contributed to this report.