Topic:
DROPOUTS; EDUCATION (GENERAL); SCHOOLS (GENERAL);
Location:
EDUCATION - (GENERAL);

OLR Research Report


April 24, 2000

 

2000-R-0503

SCHOOL DROPOUT AGE

By: Judith Lohman, Chief Analyst

You asked if any states require students to stay in school past age 16. You also asked if any states require students to have permission to drop out of school before graduating from high school.

SUMMARY

According to information provided by the Education Commission of the States (ECS), as of March 2000, 22 states and the District of Columbia have mandatory school ages higher than age 16. Nine states require students to attend school until age 17. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia require students to stay in school until age 18. Minnesota will require students to stay in school until age 18 starting with the 2000-01 school year.

Virtually all of the states that require students to attend school after age 16 make at least some exceptions. All allow students to leave school if they graduate. The states also commonly allow students to leave before graduation to enter work-study and or other alternative education programs.

Seven of the states (Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Maine, New Mexico, and Oklahoma) allow students to drop out of school before age 17 or 18 with their parents' consent. Some also require school authorities to consent to the student's dropping out and some require the student and his parents to attend a final school exit interview or counseling session.

MANDATORY ATTENDANCE PAST AGE 16

Table 1 below lists the states that, with some exceptions, require students to attend school after age 16:

Table 1: States With Compulsory Attendance Ages Over 16

State

Maximum Attendance Age

Arkansas

17

California

18

District of Columbia

18

Hawaii

18

Indiana

18

Kansas

18

Kentucky

18

Louisiana

17

Maine

17

Minnesota

18*

Mississippi

17

Nevada

17

New Mexico

18

Ohio

18

Oklahoma

18

Oregon

18

Pennsylvania

17

South Carolina

17

Tennessee

17

Texas

17

Utah

18

Virginia

18

Washington

18

Wisconsin

18

*Starting in 2000-01

PARENTAL CONSENT REQUIREMENTS

Indiana

Indiana law requires a student to attend school until he graduates or turns 18 unless he is between age 16 and 18 and his parents and the school principal consent in writing to his withdrawal at an exit interview (Indiana Code, Sec. 20-8.1-3-17).

Kansas

Kansas law allows students to drop out of school before they graduate and before they turn 18 if they are age 16 or 17 and they have their parents, guardians, or a court give written consent to their withdrawal.

Before withdrawing from school, the student and his parent or guardian must attend a final counseling session by the school at which they must sign a disclaimer urging the child to continue in school or pursue educational alternatives. The disclaimer must include (1) information about the academic skills the student has not yet achieved, (2) the difference in future earning power between a high school graduate and a high school dropout, and (3) a list of educational alternatives available to the student (Kan.Stats., Sec. 72-1111).

Louisiana

State law requires students to attend school until age 17. But it allows a student who is 16 to withdraw from school before graduation with the written consent of his parent or guardian (La. Rev. Stats., Sec. 17-221).

Kentucky

Kentucky allows an unmarried student between the ages of 16 and 18 to leave school before graduating from high school only after a conference with the school principal. The principal must request a conference with the student's parent or guardian and must receive written notice of withdrawal from them. The parent or guardian must also attend a one-hour counseling session with the school counselor on the potential problems facing nongraduates (Ky. Rev. Stats., Sec. 159-010).

Maine

Maine law requires students to attend school until age 17 unless they have graduated from high school or are attending postsecondary education full-time. A student may leave school before age 17 if he meets the following conditions:

1. he is at least age 15 or has completed the 9th grade,

2. he has his parent's permission to leave school,

3. he has been approved for a program of suitable work study by the school principal,

4. he has permission from the local school board, and

5. he has agreed in writing with his parents and the school board to meet annually until he reaches his 17th birthday to review his educational needs (Me. Rev. Stats., Sec. 20A-5001A).

New Mexico

New Mexico law requires a student to attend school until he graduates or reaches the age of majority (18) unless he is at least 16 and has been excused by the local school board upon its finding that the student will be engaged in gainful employment or alternative education and the student's parent or guardian consents (N.M. Stats., Sec. 22-12-2).

Oklahoma

Oklahoma students must attend school until they graduate or turn 18 unless, on or after their 16th birthday, they are excused from attending by a written agreement between the administrator of the school district and the student's parents or guardian. The agreement must be in the child's and the community's best interests (Okla. Stats., Sec. 70-10-105).

JL:ts