Senate Bill 208: Dropout Prevention (Raising Compulsory Attendance Age to 18)


Last Updated: March 27, 2014
Senate Bill 208: Dropout Prevention (Raising Compulsory Attendance Age to 18)
Sonia Chang-Diaz, Michael R. Knapik, Harriette L. Chandler, Karen E. Spilka, Jennifer L. Flanagan, Michael D. Brady, William N. Brownsberger, James B. Eldridge, Sal N. DiDomenico, Michael F. Rush, Anthony W. Petruccelli, David M. Rogers, Elizabeth A. Malia, Mary S. Keefe, Patricia D. Jehlen, Frank A. Moran, Linda D. Forry, Katherine M. Clark, Michael O. Moore, James J. O'Day, Thomas M. McGee, Michael Barrett, Carl M. Sciortino, Barry R. Finegold, John P. Fresolo

Senate Bill 208 raises the compulsory attendance age to 18 years old and establishes an "early warning system" as a means of dropout prevention

HSLDA's Position:
Action Requested:

Please contact members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and give them the following messages in your own words. Because this issue affects all parents in the state there is no need to specifically mention homeschooling:

“I am calling to oppose Senate Bill 208 which would raise the compulsory attendance age to 18. I am aware of studies that show that a higher compulsory attendance age is ineffective in increasing graduation rates. Instead, increasing the compulsory school attendance age actually costs more taxpayer money and restricts the rights of parents and children to seek alternative educational and career opportunities. Please oppose SB 208.”

To make our contacts as efficient as possible please contact your Senator and the members based on the following:

If your last name begins with A-G please contact:

Senator Stephen Brewer, Senate Committee Chair
Phone: 617-722-1540

Senator Jennifer Flanagan, Senate Committee Vice Chair
Phone: 617-722-1230

Senator Sal N. DiDomenico, Senate Committee Assistant Vice Chair
Phone: 617-722-1650

Senator Gale Candaras
Phone: 617-722-1291

Senator Benjamin Downing
Phone: 617-722-1625
Email: Benjamin.Downing@MASenate.go

If your last name begins with H-N please contact:

Senator Richard J. Ross
Phone: 617-722-1555

Senator Brian Joyce
Phone: 617-722-1643

Senator Thomas McGee
Phone: 617-722-1350

Senator Marc Pacheco
Phone: 617-722-1551

If your last name begins with O-U please contact:

Senator Michael Rush
Phone: 617-722-1348

Senator Eileen Donoghue
Phone: 617-722-1630

Senator Patricia Jehlen
Phone: 617-722-1578

Senator Marc Pacheco
Phone: 617-722-1551

Senator Thomas Kennedy
Phone: 617-722-1200

If your last name begins with V-Z please contact:

Senator Michael Moore
Phone: 617-722-1485

Senator Anthony Petruccelli
Phone: 617-722-1634

Senator James Timilty
Phone: 617-722-1222

Senator Donald Humason, Jr.
Phone: 617-722-1415


1/22/2013 (Senate) Introduced and Referred to Senate Education Committee
3/6/2014 (Senate) Reported Favorably by Joint Committee on Education Carrying HB 3290, HB 338, HB 341, HB 347, HB 350, HB 368, HB 376, HB 523, HB 524, HB 525, SB 283
3/6/2014 (Senate) Referred to the Ways and Means Committee


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