Senate Bill 52: Change in Compulsory School Age


Last Updated: January 11, 2013
Senate Bill 52: Change in Compulsory School Age
Senator Higdon

Senate Bill 52 would have raised the compulsory school age from 16 to 17 in July 2016. Under the bill, on July 1, 2017, the age would have been raised from 17 to 18. SB 52 would have kept the option for a child under the age of 18 to terminate his or her education prior to graduating from high school until July 1, 2017.

While this bill was very similar to House Bill 216, it was not identical.

HSLDA's Position:

HSLDA was opposed to Senate Bill 52 as it would further restrict the freedom of parents to determine whether their child should continue with their formal education or seek practical on-the-job experience. Raising the compulsory attendance age often creates a poor environment in local schools, disrupting those who truly want to learn.

Action Requested:
None at this time

01/03/2012     (Senate)     Introduced in the Senate, assigned to Education
04/12/2012     (Senate)     Legislature closed and the bill died.


For the past few years the Kentucky House has passed similar compulsory attendance bills that push off raising the age for several years in the future. To date, all of the bills have failed in the Senate.

• Raising it from 16 to 18 would subject Kentucky home educators to the requirements of the homeschool statute two additional years.

• 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 states only require attendance to age 16. Eight other states allow a child to drop out at 16 or younger with permission of their parent. 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 upper age limit 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.

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill History

For more information on compulsory attendance, please see our Issues Library entry.