May 26, 2006

House Bill 74: An Act Concerning Education—Compulsory Attendance—Age

Delegate Pugh

This bill was not enacted before the legislature closed. It would have raised the compulsory attendance age for all children in Maryland from age 16 to 18.

8/29/2005(House): Pre-filed, referred to Ways and Means Committee.
1/11/2006 (House): First reading in the Ways and Means Committee.
02/01/2006(House): Ways and Means Committee Hearing at 1:00 p.m. The Committee did not vote on the bill and has not yet scheduled a vote. The Education Subcommittee will take bill up to study further.

HSLDA's Position:

Action Requested:


  1. Raising the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18 would subject Maryland home educators to the requirements of the homeschool statute two years longer than now required.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. For more information on compulsory attendance, please see our memorandum: Raising the Compulsory Attendance Age Fails to Achieve Significant Results.

 Other Resources

Feb.-10-2006—Maryland—Calls Needed to Stop Rise in Compulsory Attendance Age

Mar.-10-2006—Maryland—Your Calls Worked! Victory on Compulsory Attendance Bill

Bill Text   (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Bill History