May 19, 2009

Senate Bill 82: Raises the Compulsory School Attendance Age from 16 to 18

Senator Frederica S. Wilson

Compulsory School Attendance/Age Requirement [SPSC]; changes the ending age for mandatory school attendance from 16 to 18 years of age.


12/2/2008(Senate) Filed
12/17/2008(Senate) Referred to Education Pre-K - 12; Education Pre-K - 12 Appropriations
3/3/2008(Senate) Introduced and Referred to Education Pre-K-12 Appropriations
5/2/2009Indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration

HSLDA's Position:
HSLDA is opposed to this bill.

Action Requested:
None requested at this time.

Raising the compulsory attendance age will not reduce the dropout rate. In fact, the two states with the highest high school completion rates, Maryland at 94.5% and North Dakota at 94.7%, compel attendance only to age 16. The state with the lowest completion rate (Oregon: 75.4%) compels attendance to age 18. (Figures are three-year averages, 1996 through 1998.)

Twenty-nine states only require attendance to age 16. Older children unwilling to learn can cause classroom disruptions and even violence, making learning harder for their classmates who truly want to learn.

It would restrict parents’ freedom to decide if their 16-year-old is ready for college or the workforce. Some 16-year-olds who are not academically inclined benefit more from valuable work experience than from being forced to sit in a classroom.

Another significant impact of expanding the compulsory attendance age would be an inevitable tax increase to pay for more classroom space and teachers to accommodate the additional students compelled to attend public schools. When California raised the age of compulsory attendance, unwilling students were so disruptive that new schools had to be built just to handle them and their behavior problems, all at the expense of the taxpayer.

For more information on compulsory attendance, please see our memorandum on compulsory school attendance age legislation.

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill History ( requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)