High School Statistics


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Report Highlights:

  • In 2019 15.1 million students attended high school in the US.
  • 10% of students are enrolled in private high schools.
  • 3,209,510 students graduated from high school in 2020.
  • The gender parity for US high schools is 0.99.
  • There are 26,727 high schools in the US and 1.8 million teachers.
  • The graduation rate is at an all-time high of 85.3%.
  • The dropout rate is at an all-time low of 6% compared to the 15% college drop out rate.

high school statistics

In the US, high school signals the beginning of secondary education. It holds a place of great importance in students’ educational careers. Thus, success in high school is often an indicator of a higher quality of life.

Due to the sheer size of the US population, there are a significant number of high schools and high school students. Therefore, it is important to look at several factors and indicators to gain a well-rounded understanding of the entire American educational system.

High School Student Enrollment For Public and Private Schools

Year Public Private
2021 15,492,000 1,539,000
2020 15,361,000 1,531,000
2019 15,232,000 1,512,000
2018 15,196,000 1,504,000
2017 15,190,000 1,468,000
2010 14,860,000 1,299,000
2000 13,517,000 1,264,000
1990 11,314,000 1,136,000

High school student enrollment is a significant indicator of educational success that can show how much of the current youth population is actively engaging in secondary education. In turn, this can shed light on whether the entire nation is achieving greater educational status.

  • An estimated 16,892,000 students will be enrolled in high school in 2021.
  • 15,492,000 of these students will be enrolled in public high schools.
  • 1990 marked the lowest high school enrollment in US history with only 11,341,000 students in attendance.
  • 2023 is projected to have one of the highest enrollments with 17,288,000 students in public and private schools.

High School Statistics and Rankings

High school rankings are becoming more common. High schools can be ranked according to various elements including high school teacher competence, whether Advanced Placement courses are offered, and teacher-to-student ratios among other factors.

  • The Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (Virginia) has been ranked the best high school in the US.
  • The Lincroft’s High Technology high school is ranked as the best STEM high school in the nation.
  • Massachusetts has the highest number of top-ranking high schools, with 49.6% of schools in the top 25%.
  • Nebraska and Maine ranked at the bottom, with only 5.8% and 3.6% of schools appearing in the top 25%.

High School Density

High school density can be quite uneven throughout the country. The irregularity of high school density in the US can be due to state size, population density, or whether a particular location can be classified as an urban or rural area. Thus, the numbers can vary quite a bit.

  • As of 2021, there are currently 26,727 high schools in the US.
  • Of these, 2,845 are private schools.
  • The state of California has 3,892 high schools, which is the highest number of high schools within a US state.
  • The state of Delaware has only  83 high schools, which is the lowest number of high schools within a US state.
  • Although the District of Columbia is not a state, it has the lowest number of high schools at only 72.

High School Students Demographics

In addition to viewing the high school student population , it is important to consider the various demographics contained within the general population. Specifically, gender and race statistics help to determine the equality of the American education system.

  • From 2019 to 2020, 15.1 million students attended high school in the US.
  • The gender parity index (GPI) is 0.99, with slightly fewer girls than boys being enrolled in high school.
  • US high schools rank 115th globally in terms of gender parity.
  • 47% of students were White, 27% were Hispanic, 15% were Black and 11% were other races.

High School Teachers

High school teachers play a significant role in the perceived competence of the school and student educational outcomes . Thus, it is important to consider the number of teachers currently employed in the US and their personal and professional qualifications.

  • In 2017 – 2018, there were 1.8 million high school teachers.
  • 64% of high school teachers were female.
  • 90% of teachers held a standard teaching certificate or advanced professional certificate.
  • 61% of teachers held a post baccalaureate degree.
  • 40% of teachers had ten to twenty years of teaching experience.
  • 9% of teachers had less than 3 years of teaching experience.
  • 45% of high schools had teachers with specialist or academic coaching assignments.

US High School Student Courses and Performances

In addition to student performance, the courses offered by high schools are often good indicators of overall educational status in the country. Thus, it is important to examine the most popular courses and student performance in these courses overall.

  • In 2015, the average reading literacy score of 15-year-olds was 497, slightly higher than the OECD average of 493.
  • The math literacy score for 15-year-olds was 470, lower than the OECD average of 490.
  • The science literacy score for 15-year-olds was 496, slightly higher than the OECD average of 493.
  • 89% of high school students completed Algebra 2 or higher, with 19% finishing calculus or higher.
  • 79% of students took at least one general science course, with 21% taking at least one advanced science course.
  • 98% of students took biology, with 76% took chemistry, and 41% took physics.
  • 40% of students earned credits in computer and information sciences.
  • 15% of students earned credits in engineering and technology.
  • In 2016, 2,611,172 students took at least one Advanced Placement exam.
  • Calculus BC had the highest completion rates, with 81.1% of students passing the class.
  • Physics 1 had the lowest completion rates, with only 39.8% of students passing the class.
  • Males dominated the math and science classes, with 71% enrolled in physics and 58% enrolled in calculus BC.
  • 77% of computer science students were male.
  • However, 61% of biology students and 55% of environmental science students were female.
  • 5% of high schools offered courses entirely online.

High School Graduation Rates

High school graduation rates are a good indication of future quality of life for the American population Graduation from high school can often determine how much money individuals may earn and how much success they may achieve in their future careers. Graduation rates can also outline how well an education system has improved over time.

  • It is estimated that 3,650,000 students graduated from high school in 2020.
  • As of 2021, the national graduation rate is currently 85.3%, an all-time high.
  • 52% of states’ graduation rates increased.
  • 79% of Black students, 81% of Hispanic students, and 89.7% of Caucasian students graduated on time.
  • Black students’ graduation rates have increased by 12 percent but are still 6.3 points below the national average.
  • Hispanic students’ graduation rates have increased by 10 percent but are still 4.3 points below the national average.
  • The graduation rate for students with disabilities remains at 67.1%.

High School Dropout Rates

High school dropout rates can be equally as revealing as graduation rates. Experts need to pay attention to the students that are getting left behind. Dropout rates can have a major impact on employment rates, individual earnings, and crime rates.

  • In 2016, the overall dropout rate was at 6%, a sharp decline from 15% in 1970.
  • The dropout rate for Black youth declined from 21% to 6%.
  • The dropout rate for Hispanic youth declined from 36% to 9%.
  • The dropout rate for Caucasian youth declined from 12% to 5%.
  • 7% of all students who dropped out were male.
  • 8% of all students who dropped out were born to US-born parents.
  • 16.8% of foreign-born students dropped out of high school.

The American education system is improving over time. There are more students graduating and fewer students dropping out than ever before in US history.

In addition, American students seem to be equally as literate as students in many other countries around the world.

On the other hand, there is considerable room for improvement in the American education system in the areas of gender and race equality. gender and race equality.

This is especially true for Advanced Placement and STEM courses that can be indicative of tertiary education success. Additionally, the structure must also work to help individuals with disabilities and boost the graduation rates across the board. These improvements will lead to an educational system that embraces equality and educational success.


[1] Education Data, How Many Public Schools Are There in the US?
[2] High-Schools.com, Research & Compare High Schools
[3] Statista, High School Enrollment for Public and Private Schools in the U.S. From 1965 to 2017, With Projections up to 2029
[4] World Bank Data, School Enrollment, Primary and Secondary (Gross), Gender Parity Index (GPI) – United States
[5] National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics: 2018
[6] America’s Promise Alliance, High School Graduation Facts: Ending the Dropout Crisis
[7] The United States Census Bureau, School Enrollment in the United States 2018
[8] National Science Board, Science & Engineering Indicators 2018, 2018 Report
[9] U.S. Department of Education, Characteristics of Public Elementary and Secondary Schools in the United States: Results From the 2015–16 National Teacher and Principal Survey
[10] The Condition of Education 2020, Characteristics of Public School Teachers
[11] U.S. News, U.S. News High School Rankings
[12] Child Trends, High School Dropout Rates

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