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House Bill 1030 would increase the compulsory school attendance age exception in Hawaii from 16 to 17 years of age.
Currently, Hawaii law makes an exception for children under 18 to be excused from school attendance at by the age of 16 if certain factors apply. HB 1030 would raise the exception age up to 17 years.
01/24/2013 House Introduced
01/28/2013 House Referred to Committees on Education and Finance
12/18/2013 House Carried over to 2014 Regular Session
Parents, not the state, are in the best position to determine whether their student would be best served by remaining in school after age 16. While many homeschooled students remain in school until they are 18 or older, many others benefit from enrollment in online college courses or a local community college, apprenticeship programs, or getting an early start on valuable work experiences. Passing this bill would restrict parents’ freedom to decide what would be best for their 16-year-old child.
In addition, raising the compulsory attendance age does not guarantee higher rates of high-school attendance or improved academic performance. A study by Cornell University found that while specific programs targeting at-risk youth can help improve high school completion rates, a law raising the age of attendance does not.
The most recent high school completion data collected by the U.S. Department of Education similarly confirms that raising the compulsory attendance age does not guarantee an increase in graduation rates. In the Department’s preliminary findings for the 2009-2010 school year (released in January of 2013), five of the six states with the highest high school completion rates compel attendance only to age 16—Vermont (91.4%), Minnesota (88.2%), North Dakota (88.4%), Iowa (87.9%), and New Jersey (87.2%). Conversely, the five states with the lowest graduation rates in the country compel attendance to either age 17—Mississippi (63.8%) and South Carolina (68.2%)—or age 18—Nevada (57.8%), New Mexico (67.3%), and Louisiana (68.8%). Complete state-by-state results are available on page 19, Table 4, of the Department’s January 2013 report.
While there are many factors which influence a child’s decision to drop out of school early, simply raising the compulsory attendance age is not a panacea. For more information on compulsory attendance laws, visit HSLDA’s Issues Library.
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