April 2, 2008

House Bill 817: Raising School Attendance to 18 Years

Rep. Charles McBurney

Creates a pilot program to subject all ninth-grade students enrolled in the program to be subject to compulsory attendance laws until age 18.

2/24/2008(House) Introduced
2/10/2008(House) Referred to Policy and Budget Council
2/10/2008(House) Referred to Schools and Learning Council
3/4/2008(House) First reading
3/12/2008(House) Referred to Committee on 21st Century Competitiveness by Schools & Learning Council
3/25/2008(House) Reported favorably by Schools & Learning Council, with amendment

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

Action Requested:
None requested at this time.

Raising the compulsory school 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 upper age limit 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 Issues Library page: “Compulsory Attendance Age Legislation.”

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill Amendment

Bill History