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      SC high school dropout rates are down

      Columbia, (WACH/AP) -- According to the United States Department of Education, high school drop out rates are down across the Nation and in South Carolina.

      The nation's high school graduation rate is the highest since 1976, but more than a fifth of students are still failing to get their diploma in four years, the Education Department said in a study released Tuesday.

      South Carolina's high school dropout rate is also down.

      In 2010 just over 68 percent of South Carolina students finished high school in 4 years, compared to 66 percent the year before.

      Some lawmakers say South Carolina is heading in the right direction.

      "It's good news because as far as economic development, we need an educated workforce and that's what we are getting," said Republican Sen. John Courson.

      Others admit the Palmetto State has a long way to go.

      "To really push down the dropout rate in this state, you need to have a pinpoint focus on it, and that means within each district, you need to pair up with teachers, parents and also mental health professionals, and folks from the department of juvenile justice, and find the at risk kids pinpoint them and engage them on a personal level," said Democratic Sen. Vince Sheheen.

      Marty Dunkenfield from the National Drop Out Center said that the U.S. Department of Education is still working to standardize they how data is collected from schools.