From 1970 to 1991, high school graduation rates for African American males rose from 668,000 to 1,174,000. This represented an increase in completion rates from 55 percent to 72 percent. Among African American females, high school graduation rates actually rose more slowly than those for African American males. For this period, the number of 18-24-year-old females who had completed high school increased from 935,000 to 1,455,000, compared to an increase from 668,000 to 1,174,000 among males. However, African American females completed high school at higher rates than did African Amer­ican males in 1970 (64 percent versus 55 percent) and in 1991 (78 per­cent versus 72 percent). By comparison, 1991 high school graduation rates were 80 percent for white males (7,843,000) and 84 percent for white females (8,481,000).

The overall racial gap in high school completion rates has de­clined substantially, down from 20 points in 1970 (Black = 60 percent and white = 81 percent) to 7 points in 1991 (Black = 75 percent and white = 82 percent). However, the racial gap in percentage of high school graduates who enroll in college continues to be sizable. In 1991, the overall difference in college enrollment was 10 points (Blacks = 32 percent and whites = 42 percent).5