May 13, 2009

House Bill 323: Raises the Compulsory School Attendance Age from 16 to 18

Rep. Dwight M. Bullard

School Attendance/Withdrawing from School [SPSC]; requires that a student who is withdrawing from school be assigned a counselor or other school personnel to provide educational information until the student is 18 years old. Requires 9th-graders and students who are withdrawing from school to receive instruction about the effects of withdrawing from high school and certain available options. Effective Date: Upon becoming law.

1/13/2009(House) Filed
2/6/2009(House) Referred to Pre-K-12 Policy Committee
2/6/2009(House) Referred to Full Appropriations Council on Education and Economic Development
2/6/2009(House) Now in Pre K-12 Policy Committee
3/11/2009(House) First Reading
5/2/2009Withdrawn from consideration

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

Action Requested:
None requested at this time.

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 on compulsory school attendance age legislation.

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill History