Rock Hill's three high schools together saw fewer students drop out in 2010-2011 than in the year before, according to new district figures.
Two-hundred sixteen students, or 4.27 percent of the district's high school enrollment, left school between fall 2010 and fall 2011, the data shows.
The figure, calculated by district officials, is preliminary until certified by the S.C. Department of Education.
Keith Wilks, executive director of student services, presented the report at Monday's school board meeting. Officials touted the news as a promising improvement over last year's less encouraging results.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Herald
"This is very happy news," school board member Ginny Moe said.
Last year, Rock Hill's dropout rate had risen to 4.88 percent, halting three years of improvement. In the 2009-2010 school year, it was 2.9 percent.
It's unclear whether the dropout rate was equal among Rock Hill's three high schools. The district report didn't separate the results.
S.C. public schools track high-school completion in two ways: the graduation rate and dropout rate. The graduation rate is calculated by tallying the number of ninth-graders who earn diplomas four years later.
Rock Hill's graduation rate, released last fall, is 73.5 percent. South Carolina's graduation rate is 73.6 percent.
The dropout rate tracks how many students leave each year. The state's dropout rate for the 2009-2010 year, the most recent on record, was 2.9 percent.
Keeping track of students who leave can be tricky, Wilks said. In some cases, he said, if the district isn't notified when a student who moved away enrolls in a school out of state, that student can be counted as a dropout, even though he's in school elsewhere.
It's not clear whether that type of issue impacted Rock Hill's rate.
The district has stepped up efforts in recent years to keep students in school. The district offers adult education programs, as well as credit recovery courses, for dropouts. Social workers visit dropouts at home and encourage them to return.