No Pluses With School Age Change: JLF

Raising the mandatory school attendance age could cost North Carolina nearly $9 million a year, with no positive impact on the state’s graduation or dropout rates, according to a new report from the Triangle-based John Locke Foundation.

See this excerpt from a recent media release:

“North Carolina’s low graduation rate and high dropout rate have little to do with the mandatory – or compulsory – attendance age,” said report author Terry Stoops, JLF Education Policy Analyst. “Legislation aimed at increasing the compulsory attendance age to 17 or 18 would do little to solve North Carolina’s graduation and dropout crisis.”

The N.C. House voted May 24 to create a task force that would study raising the compulsory school attendance age. House Bill 1790 calls for a plan to boost the compulsory age to 18 and to increase the N.C. graduation rate to 100 percent. The Senate has not yet considered the bill.

North Carolina is one of 26 states that set 16 as the maximum age for compulsory school attendance, Stoops said. Other states set the maximum age at 17 or 18. “Data from the states show there is no apparent relationship between the maximum compulsory age and graduation rates,” he said. “In fact, four of the five states with the highest graduation rates match North Carolina in setting the maximum compulsory age at 16.”


In addition, the report also makes recommendations (does anyone think DPI is listening?):

North Carolina should seek other ways to boost graduation rates and cut dropout rates, Stoops said. “Efforts to reach out to students at risk of dropping out must begin in the elementary and middle school grades,” he said. “School systems and law enforcement officials should also begin earnestly enforcing existing truancy laws. There is very little to be gained by raising the compulsory attendance age and forcing unruly or indifferent students to stay longer in schools that are not meeting their needs.”

E.C. 🙂


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