Completion rate


The percentage of a cohort of children or young people aged 3-5 years above the intended age for the last grade of each level of education who have completed that grade. The intended age for the last grade of each level of education is the age at which pupils would enter the grade if they had started school at the official primary entrance age, had studied full-time and had progressed without repeating or skipping a grade. For example, if the official age of entry into primary education is 6 years, and if primary education has 6 grades, the intended age for the last grade of primary education is 11 years. In this case, 14-16 years (11 + 3 = 14 and 11 + 5 = 16) would be the reference age group for calculation of the primary completion rate.

Data source

The data can be obtained from population censuses and household surveys that collect data on the highest level of education completed by children and young people in a household, through self- or household declaration. In the former case, each household member above a certain age reports his or her own level of educational attainment. In the latter case, one person, usually the head of the household or another reference person, indicates the highest grade and/or level of education completed of each member of the household. Administrative data from Ministries of Education on the structure of the education system (entrance ages and durations) are also needed. Surveys can serve as a source of data if they collect information for the age groups of concern. In addition to national surveys, international sample surveys, such as Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS, or Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS,, are another source. These surveys are designed to meet commonly agreed upon international data needs and aim to assure cross-national comparability, while also providing data for national policy purposes. These surveys are implemented on a regular basis in selected countries, on average every 3 to 5 years. Population censuses can also be a source of attainment data but they are carried out less frequently than household surveys, often only once per decade. Typical questions in a household survey to collect data on educational attainment are: what is the highest level of education [name of household member] has attended? What is the highest grade of education [name of household member] completed at that level?

Calculation method

The number of persons in the relevant age group who have completed the last grade of the given level of education is expressed as a percentage of the total population (in the survey sample) of the same age group.

Data required

Population in the relevant age group by the highest level of education completed; data on the structure (entrance age and duration) of each level of education.


A completion rate at or near 100% indicates that all or most children and adolescents have completed a level of education by the time they are 3 to 5 years older than the official age of entry into the last grade of that level of education. A low completion rate indicates low or delayed entry into a given level of education, high drop-out, high repetition, late completion, or a combination of these factors. To identify the causes of low completion rates, it is necessary to examine other indicators, for example the out-of-school rate, the gross intake ratio to the last grade, and the percentage of over-age children. When disaggregated by sex, location, and other characteristics, this indicator can identify specific population groups who are excluded from education.


The completion rate indicates how many persons in a given age group have completed primary, lower secondary, or upper secondary education. It indicates how many children and adolescents enter school on time and progress through the education system without excessive delays.

Types of disaggregation

By sex; location; wealth quintiles; disability status; other personal and household characteristics (if possible).