COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina's dropout rate has declined for the fourth consecutive year.
The state Education Department reported Wednesday that more than 5,200 high school students dropped out in 2011-12. That's nearly 670 fewer students than a year earlier and 2,800 fewer than in 2007-08.
The agency says the dropout rate for 2011-12 was 2.5 percent, down 0.3 percentage points from the previous year.
The year-to-year dropout rate is different than 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 graduation rate measures students earning a regular diploma in four years. South Carolina's graduation rate for 2012 was nearly 75 percent.