Chapter 3
. D. Support Policies To Raise Compulsory School Age Requirements Under State Laws

Governors and state legislators are increasingly interested in  raising the compulsory school attendance age from 16 or 17 to 18 years of age, as explained in Chapter 2. Research shows that one in four potential dropouts stays in school simply because of the compulsory school age law. Hence, in states that have not raised the rate, this is a worthy effort.

Deeper Look

Compulsory school-age laws can be an important part of comprehensive reform efforts. In the past few years, more states have raised their compulsory school age to 18 (or when students have graduated) and created incentives for students to stay in school. Some state laws, however, are still out of date and fail to reflect the fact that most jobs today require a high school diploma plus some postsecondary education. In addition to setting the expectation that all students should graduate from high school, research shows that raising the compulsory school age reduces the number of students who drop out. Raising the Compulsory School Attendance Age: The Case for Reform provides the latest research and shares the experiences of governors and state legislators who worked to pass such laws. The report also includes examples of draft legislation. Such legislation will send the clear message that the state expects everyone to graduate from high school, and it makes support for struggling students a state priority.

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