High School dropout rate falls

COLUMBIA — In school year 2010-2011, 365 fewer students dropped out of state high schools than in the previous year, according to a new report from the South Carolina Department of Education.  The dropout rate for all students was 2.8 percent, a decrease of 0.1 percent from 2009-2010 and 1.1 percent from 2007-2008.
This marks the third consecutive year of declining dropout numbers. Since 2007-08, the state’s total annual high school dropouts have declined from 8,032 to 5,900 - a 26 percent reduction.
State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais said reducing dropout rates are a critical step toward improved on-time high school graduation rates, which he views as a key measurement of success for the entire K-12 system.
“We must ensure students stay focused and engaged from the first day of kindergarten through high school graduation,” Zais said. “Students must have basic reading skills by third grade to successfully complete high school. Offering parents a full menu of schools to choose from will enable them to find the best fit for their children’s learning styles. Technology allows schools to deliver learning experiences tailored to meet the needs of individual students rather than one-size-fits-all instruction to every student.”
Zais continued, “There is no silver bullet to magically improve high school graduation rates, but by focusing on providing every student a personalized and customized education, we can and will make progress.”
Between 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, all demographic groups saw reductions in the dropout rate with the exception of Hispanic students. The number of Hispanic dropouts increased by 46 students for a total of 368, but that is below the 2007-2008 level of 399 students.
The largest decrease in dropouts was among economically disadvantaged students. In 2010-2011, 341 fewer students in this group dropped out than in the previous year, and over 1,000 fewer than in 2007-2008.