May 30, 2006

Senate Bill 73: Raises the Compulsory Attendance Age to 17 Years

Senator Tapia

Lowers the minimum age of compulsory school attendance from seven to six years of age. Raises the maximum age of compulsory school attendance from 16 to 17 years of age.

1/11/2006Introduced—Assigned to Senate Education Committee
2/09/2006Hearing scheduled in the Senate Education Committee
3/17/2006Hearing scheduled in the Appropriations Committee
3/24/2006Senate: Second Reading; Laid Over to 3/27/2006
3/27/2006Senate: Second Reading; Passed with Amendments
3/28/2006Introduced In House - Assigned to Education and Appropriations
3/28/2006Senate: Third Reading; Passed with Amendments
4/13/2006House Committee on Education Pass Amended to House Committee of the Whole
4/19/2006House: Second Reading; Laid Over
4/20/2006House: Second Reading; Referred with Amendments to Appropriations
4/27/2006House: Committee on Appropriations Pass Unamended to House Committee of the Whole
5/1/2006House: Second Reading; Passed with Amendments
5/3/2006House: Third Reading; Passed
5/3/2006Senate: Considered House Amendments—Result was to Concur—Repass
5/11/2006Signed by the President of the Senate
5/26/2006Signed by the Governor

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

Action Requested:
No action requested at this time.


  • Lowering the compulsory attendance age from seven to six and raising it from 16 to 18 would subject Colorado home educators to the requirements of the homeschool statute one year earlier and one year later than now required. (You do not need to share this reason with your legislators.)
  • Many education experts have concluded that beginning a child's formal education too early may actually result in burnout and poor scholastic performance later.
  • Lowering the compulsory attendance age erodes the authority of parents who are in the best position to determine when their child's formal education should begin.
  • 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 Mandatory Kindergarten Is Unnecessary.

 Other Resources

Jan.-19-2006—Calls Needed to Colorado Senator to Withdraw Harmful Bill

Feb.-2-2006—Calls Needed Immediately to Oppose Compulsory Attendance Bill

Feb.-10-2006—Update on Compulsory Attendance Bill--Calls Still Needed!

Feb.-15-2006—More Calls Needed to Oppose Compulsory Attendance Bill

Mar.-2-2006—Calls Still Needed to Stop Compulsory Attendance Bill

Mar.-6-2006—More Calls Still Needed to Stop Compulsory Attendance Bill

Mar.-15-2006—Compulsory Attendance Bill Hearing Friday: Keep Calling!

Apr.-11-2006—Colorado—Compulsory Attendance Bill—Correction to Previous E-lert

Apr.-18-2006—Colorado—Victory on Compulsory Attendance Bill!

Mar.-23-2006—Memorandum to Senator Brophy    (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Apr.-28-2006—Colorado—More Good News on Compulsory Attendance Bill!

May-31-2006—Colorado—Governor Signs Compulsory Attendance Bill

Bill Text    (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Bill History