The South Carolina Department of Education reported that South Carolina’s high school dropout rate declined for the fourth straight year.
The department announced Wednesday that 5,232 high school students dropped out in the 2011-2012 federal fiscal year (the most recent data available). That’s nearly 670 fewer students than a year earlier and 2,800 fewer than in 2007-08.
Education Department spokesman Jay Ragley says that the dropout rate in 2011-2012 fiscal year has gone down 33 percent in the last four years.
“It’s a good thing because these are students who should be staying in school,” he told South Carolina Radio Network. “These are not students with extenuating circumstances, health-related, or in rare instances behaviorally-related, who had to leave school for those reasons. These are students who for all intensive purposes should be in school.”
Education Superintendent Mick Zais says the dropout rate declining is good not only for students and school, but for South Carolina itself.
“The path to prosperity for South Carolina’s economy begins, but does not end, with greater numbers of high school graduates,” Zais said in a statement.
The year-to-year dropout rate is different from the graduation rate. The dropout rate reflects how many teens officially withdrew over a federal fiscal year or became too old to return. Students can legally drop out at age 17. They cannot stay in school past age 21.
The dropout rate declined in 51 of the state’s 85 school districts, according to the Education Department.
Tripp Girardeau contributed to this report