It’s better to graduate late than to earn a GED, concludes a Center for Public Education study. Late graduates do significantly better than GED recipients in education, work, health and civic participation.
. . . when the data is controlled to compare students of equivalent socioeconomic status and achievement level, late graduates come close to on-time graduates’ achievement.
In high school, late graduates earned higher grades than dropouts but similar test scores. Persistence, rather than academic ability, is the difference.
Late graduates are slightly more likely than GED recipients to enroll in college (59 percent vs. 51 percent), but much more likely to complete an associate or bachelor degree. Again, they persist.
More late graduates than GED recipients and dropouts are employed and more hold full-time jobs. Late graduates are also less likely to earn incomes at the low end of the income scale.
Persistence shows up again in voting.
Although late graduates are no more likely to be registered to vote than GED recipients, late graduates are significantly more likely to have voted in a recent election (40 percent versus 29 percent).
Late graduates also exercise more and smoke less than GED recipients and dropouts.
“Dropout recovery” programs that make it easy for students to make up credits may not support the character traits that lead to greater success for high school graduates.