Education Week magazine said a review of graduation rates of the 50 U.S. state and the District of Columbia for the 2002-03 school year, which is the most recent data available, indicates some 1.2 million students a year will drop out or otherwise not graduate.
An analysis developed by the EPE Research Center was reported in a special edition of Education Week. The report was produced with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Researchers said about 30 percent of any given ninth-grade class will fail to graduate.
Education Week said the study showed large racial gaps. About half of American Indian and black students graduate and 55.6 percent of Hispanic students receive a diploma compared with about 75 percent of white or Asian-American students.
The district with the lowest graduation rate was Detroit at 21.7 percent while the highest was Fairfax County, Va., at 82.5 percent.