May 26, 2006

Senate Bill 741: An Act Concerning Baltimore City and Raising the Compulsory Attendance Age

Senator McFadden

After our opposition, H.B. 36 and S.B. 741, both of which would have raised the compulsory attendance age, were amended to merely create a task force to study raising the compulsory attendance age. They were subsequently enacted.

02/03/2006 (Senate): First Reading Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.
003/09/2006(Senate): Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee Hearing at 1 p.m.

HSLDA's Position:

Action Requested:
No action is requested at this time.


  • 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.

  • Raising the compulsory attendance age will not reduce the dropout rate. In fact, the two states with the best 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 "Raising the Compulsory Attendance Age Fails to Achieve Significant Results."

 Other Resources

Mar.-8-2006—Maryland—Calls Needed to Stop Compulsory Attendance Age Increase

Bill Text   (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Bill History