High School Completion



Why do we measure high school completion? 

High school completion (or obtaining the equivalent of a high school diploma) has wide-ranging health, social, and economic impacts.(1) High school completion is associated with improved individual health, and higher rates of high school completion in a community are associated with lower levels of poor population health outcomes and disparities.(2-5) For example, research demonstrates that graduating from high school can lower a person’s risk of developing chronic health conditions and reduce the potential for lack of access to health care and unemployment later in life.(5-7) Improving high school completion rates can result in healthier communities.(1,5)

How do we measure high school completion? 

This metric estimates the percentage of residents who are 25+ years old who have received at least a high school diploma (or equivalent). This metric applies to residents at the congressional district level; school district-level estimates are not calculated.

Strengths of Metric

Limitations of Metric

High school completion is associated with improved health and social/economic outcomes later in life. 

This metric provides disaggregated estimates by race/ethnicity and gender.

This metric is comparable across geographic areas.

This metric does not focus on the performance of schools in a given district, but rather on the highest level of education achieved by adults who live in that district, regardless of where they attended high school.


High school completion is calculated by the following formula:

high school completion calculation

This metric was calculated by aggregating estimates from smaller geographies to the congressional district level. For more information on the calculation, please refer to the Congressional District Health Dashboard Technical Document.

Data Source

Estimates for this metric are from American Community Survey five-year estimate data using the S1501 and C15002 table(s). 

Years of Collection

Calculated by the Dashboard Team using data from 2021, 5 year estimate


  1. Why Education Matters to Health: Exploring the Causes. Richmond, VA: The Center on Society and Health;2014.

  2. Freudenberg N, Ruglis J. Peer reviewed: Reframing school dropout as a public health issue. Preventing chronic disease. 2007;4(4).

  3. Vaughn MG, Salas-Wright CP, Maynard BR. Dropping out of school and chronic disease in the United States. Zeitschrift fur Gesundheitswissenschaften = Journal of public health. 2014;22(3):265-270.

  4. Lansford JE, Dodge KA, Pettit GS, Bates JE. A Public Health Perspective on School Dropout and Adult Outcomes: A Prospective Study of Risk and Protective Factors from Age 5 to 27. The Journal of adolescent health : official publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine. 2016;58(6):652-658.

  5. J.O. Lee, R. Kosterman, T.M. Jones, T.I. Herrenkohl, I.C. Rhew, R.F. Catalano, J.D. Hawkins. Mechanisms linking high school graduation to health disparities in young adulthood: a longitudinal analysis of the role of health behaviours, psychosocial stressors, and health insurance. Public Health. 2016;139, 61-69. 

  6. Unemployment rates and earnings by educational attainment. 2019.

  7. Tamborini CR, Kim C, Sakamoto A. Education and Lifetime Earnings in the United States. Demography. 2015;52(4):1383-1407.

Last updated: February 20, 2024