House Bill 338: Raises Compulsory Attendance Age to 18

Massachusetts
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Last Updated: March 25, 2014
House Bill 338: Raises Compulsory Attendance Age to 18
Sponsors:
Garrett J. Bradley, James M. Cantwell
Summary:

House Bill 338 raises the compulsory school attendance age to 18.

HSLDA's Position:
Oppose.
Action Requested:
None at this time
Status:
1/22/2013 (House) Introduced and Referred to House Education Committee and Senate Concurred
8/6/2013 (Joint) Hearing Scheduled for 10/08/2013
3/6/2014 (Senate) Accompanied S. 208
Background:

Statistics show that 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.)

Even with possible exemption language, passing this bill 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 is an inevitable tax burden 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.

Many studies have shown the ineffectiveness of increasing the compulsory attendance age. A study by Cornell University on raising the age of compulsory attendance found that there was no correlation between passing a law to raise the age of compulsory attendance and high school completion rates. The study shows that specific programs targeted at at risk youth can help improve completion rates, but a law raising the age of attendance does not. To read the report click here.

A new study from the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution has confirmed the lack of evidence that increasing the compulsory attendance age improves high school graduation. The study concludes, "Increasing the compulsory attendance age and thinking that the problem has been addressed may not quite be shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic, but it comes close." Read the full report here.

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill History