A welcome trend in recent decades has been the sustained rise in high school graduation rates up to a national average of 85% for 2017-18—as well as a significant narrowing of differences by race and ethnicity for this educational milestone (though gaps remain).

Policymakers are rightly focused on making sure even more young Americans successfully complete their high school education, and on further narrowing gaps between various subgroups. To that end, the Department of Education requires states to report high school completion rates for the prior academic year to track progress at a national level.

States are also required to provide these data for a variety of subgroups, including “each major racial and ethnic group,” economically disadvantaged students, children with disabilities, and English learners. Following the passage of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015, states are also required to report disaggregated data on high school graduation rates for homeless students, and for those in foster care; though this data is not yet being reliably reported.

This disaggregated data has proven valuable for assessing progress towards more equitable outcomes, especially for marginalized groups. But there is one glaring omission in the subgroups for which data is available: sex. We do not know the national high school graduation rates for girls and boys, since states are not required to provide this data—but, we argue here, this requirement should be added.

Reliable high school graduation rates by sex are not available at a national level, but, because states are required to track individual students’ graduation status across other demographic groups, many states already collect and publish the rate by gender. (Note that state Departments of Education often report rates by sex, rather than gender identity.) To gauge the national trend, we collected publicly available high school graduation data for the 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 school years.

Read the full article about gender gap in graduation rates by Richard V. Reeves, Eliana Buckner, and Ember Smith at Brookings.