South Dakota
South Dakota

April 6, 2006

House Bill 1235: An Act to Raise the Compulsory Attendance Age

The Committee on Education at the request of the Governor.

Bill would raise the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18 for all students.

1/25/2006 First Read in House and Referred to House Education Committee.
2/9/2006House Education Committee Hearing, do pass 13-2.
2/10/2006 House of Representatives, do pass as amended 51-14.
2/13/2006First Read in Senate and Referred to Senate Education Committee.
2/16/2006 Senate Education Committee Hearing, do pass 4-2.
2/17/2006 Senate deferred to another day passed.
2/16/2006 Senate Do Pass Amended Failed 11-23.

HSLDA's Position:

Action Requested:
Your calls made a tremendous difference. The bill that would have subjected 16 and 17-year-olds to compulsory attendance, House Bill 1235, was soundly defeated in the Senate Tuesday. The bill that would have subjected 5 and 6-year-olds to compulsory attendance was defeated in the Senate yesterday.

H.B. 1235 had significant momentum. It was requested by the governor, and sailed through a House committee, the full House, and Senate committee. Finally, after an outpouring of your calls, a motion on the Senate floor to pass the bill failed by a vote of 11 to 23.


  • Raising the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18 would subject South Dakota home educators to the requirements of the homeschool statute two years 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 "Raising the Compulsory Attendance Age Fails to Achieve Significant Results."

 Other Resources

Feb.-8-2006—South Dakota—Calls Needed to Stop Compulsory Attendance Age Increase

Feb.-15-2006—South Dakota—Calls Needed to Stop Expansion of Compulsory Attendance

Feb.-16-2006—South Dakota—Calls Needed to Stop Compulsory Attendance Age Increase

Feb.-24-2006—South Dakota—Update: Compulsory Attendance Bills Defeated

Bill Text (PDF)    (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Bill History