Costello said the discrepancy between the 1.56 percent dropout rate and the 91.5 percent graduation rate could be attributed, in part, to students who transferred to another school system during their senior year.
She said intervention specialists at the middle- and high-school levels were responsible for a lot of the success.
Intervention specialists were hired by the school system primarily over the last decade with the help of a state grant. Their job is to help at-risk students, or those who show signs of dropping out.
Costello said some of the at-risk signs include truancy and poor academic performance.
Intervention specialists typically have experience in social work, Costello said. It is not a requirement that they hold a college degree, but many of them do.
Heather Dixon and Amy Warrenfeltz said they worked with children in the private sector before they became intervention specialists at South Hagerstown High School.
Dixon said many of the children she helped in the private sector already were in trouble. She said she became an intervention specialist because she would be able to reach students sooner.
"I thought this would be a preventive approach," said Dixon, who works with students in grades 10 through 12. "It's definitely one of those jobs that has rewards. We all feel passionate about what we do."
Dixon and Warrenfeltz said they are alerted to at-risk children by teachers, guidance counselors and assistant principals. The two commonly handle about 150 formal cases per year.
Warrenfeltz, who works with ninth-grade students, said intervention specialists make telephone calls, visit homes, arrange family meetings and promote extracurricular activities to help decrease the dropout rate.
In some cases, they even walk students to class.
Warrenfeltz said intervention specialists work with students until their grades improve, then "watch from a distance" to ensure things stay on course.
"We try to get to everyone we can," she said. "We don't say no to anyone."