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      Fewer students dropping out of South Carolina schools

      Fewer South Carolina students dropped out of school in the 2011-2012 year, compared to the previous school year, according to a new report from the South Carolina Department of Education.

      There were 668 fewer student dropouts throughout the state.

      The dropout rate for all students was 2.5 percent.

      That number is down 0.3 percentage points from 2010-2011 and 1.4 percentage points from 2007-2008.

      Since 2007-2008, the state's total annual dropouts have declined from 8,032 to 5,232, nearly a 35 percent reduction, according to the report.

      Between 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, all demographic groups saw reductions in the dropout rate with the exception of American Indian/Alaska Native and Asian/Pacific Islander students.

      The largest decrease in dropouts was among Black (non-Hispanic) students, according to the report.

      State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais said these rates are a critical step towards improving high school graduation rates.

      "The prospects for long-term economic growth and job creation improve as more students graduate from high school with the skills necessary to compete for jobs in the workforce, enlist in the military, or enroll in an institution of higher education. The path to prosperity for South Carolina's economy begins, but does not end, with greater numbers of high school graduates." Zais said.