Rhode Island
Rhode Island

July 18, 2005

Senate Bill 169: Raising the Compulsory Attendance Age

Senators Pichardo, Connors, Issa, Perry, and C. Levesque.

This bill would have raised compulsory attendance to age 17 from its current age of 16. Currently, children between 16 and 18 who are "enrolled in school" need written permission from their parents before they can be exempted from compulsory attendance. This bill would have required children to stay in school until age 17 before their parents could authorize the exemption. The bill was not taken up by the Committee before the legislature adjourned, thus the bill died in Committee.

02/02/2005(Senate): Introduced, Referred To Senate Education.
03/17/2005(Senate): Education Committee Hearing at 4:15 PM in Room 313 of the Rhode Island State House.
03/17/2005(Senate): Committee Recommended Measure Be Held For Further Study
03/30/2005(Senate): Education Committee Hearing at 4:30 PM in Senate Lounge - State House
03/30/2005(Senate): Committee recommended measure be held for further study.

HSLDA's Position:

Action Requested:
No further action is necessary.

1. Proponents of raising the compulsory attendance age claim it will lead to a higher graduation rate. But the state with the highest graduation rate in the country, New Jersey, at 89%, only requires attendance to age 16. And Florida, which requires attendance to age 18, has one of the nation's lowest graduation rates, at 59%.

The facts demonstrate that forcing unwilling students to stay in school longer does not increase graduation rates. And it does not reduce juvenile crime.

In addition, it is certain that your tax bill will increase. When California raised its compulsory attendance age, taxpayers were forced to pay for a whole new school system to handle the numerous problems these unruly, unwilling students caused.

The statistics in the first paragraph come from the February, 2005, publication of the Manhattan Institute's Center for Civic Innovation, "Public High School Graduation and College-Readiness Rates: 1991-2002," by Dr. Jay P. Greene.

2. Rhode Island students who are enrolled in school must attend until age 18 unless parents give written consent to leave at age 16.

3. States which compel attendance only to age 16 have better high school completion rates than states that compel attendance to 17 or 18, on average. (Source: "Dropout Rates in the United States: 2000", pp. 9-10, 40-41; National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, Office of educational Research and Improvement, Doc. No. NCES 2002-114.)

4. States which compel attendance only to age 16 also have lower dropout rates than states that compel attendance to 17 or 18, on average. (Source: same as above.)

5. According to statistics published by the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Dropout Prevention, a higher compulsory attendance age is not correlated to a reduction in juvenile crime. (Source: "Juvenile Arrests 1999." Washington, D.C.: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2000.)

 Other Resources

Mar-29-2005 — Rhode Island--Call to Defeat Expansion of State Control Over Homeschoolers

Mar-16-2005 — Rhode Island--Calls Needed to Defeat Expansion of State Control Over Homeschoolers

Bill Text

Bill History