August 6, 2004

Senate Bill 2918: Raises compulsory attendance age from 16 to 17

Sen. Miguel del Valle

Senate Bill 2918 raises the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 17.

02/06/2004Senate First Reading
02/06/2004Senate Referred to Rules
02/18/2004Senate Assigned to Education
02/24/2004Senate Do Pass Education
03/25/2004Senate Third Reading - Passed
03/26/2004House First Reading
03/26/2004House Referred to Rules Committee
04/20/2004House Assigned to Elementary & Secondary Education Committee
04/29/2004House Do Pass Elementary & Secondary Education Committee
05/04/2004House Second Reading - Short Debate
05/11/2004House Third Reading - Short Debate - Passed
05/11/2004Bill Passed Both Houses

HSLDA's Position:
HSLDA opposed this bill.

- Raising the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 17 would subject Illinois home educators to the requirements of the homeschool statute one year later than now required. (You do not need to share this reason with your legislators.)

- 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 at

 Other Resources

May-27-2004 — More Calls Needed to Governor to Defeat Compulsory Attendance Bill

May-13-2004 — Calls Needed to Defeat Compulsory Attendance Bill

Mar-30-2004 — Calls Needed to Defeat Compulsory Attendance Bill

Bill Text