Requiring Students to Stay in School Longer

Several states in recent years have studied or actually implemented changes in theirs laws increasing the age to which children are required to attend school.  The New Jersey legislature is currently considering a bill to raise the mandatory attendance age from 16 to 18 years of age citing statistics that show high school drop outs are more likely to live in poverty, be unemployed or end up in jail. 

Home school advocates and other opponents, however, say that requiring students to stay in school will not achieve the goals of higher graduation rates and reducing juvenile crime.  Opponents cite difference research that tends to show no evidence that requiring kids to stay in school longer reduces juvenile crime.  They also point to the added burden on taxpayers for additional classrooms and teachers for more students and that students who do not want to be in school create disruptions resulting in a lower quality education for those who do.  For more information click here.

Requiring Students to Start School Earlier

At the other end of the education spectrum, some states are considering lowering the mandatory age for children to start school.  A bill in the Kansas legislature to lower the mandatory age from seven to six years did not make it out of the House Committee on Education.  Proponents look to a growing body of research showing that the earlier children are involved in former education the better the prospects are for identifying and dealing with learning difficulties.  Opponents cite studies that show, although children who start school earlier may do better on standardized tests early on, the advantage fades by the fifth or sixth grade.  Opponents also fear school “burnout” by forcing children into a structured school setting too early.   Others prefer to keep children at home longer for religious reasons.

These issues will continue to be debated as various solutions are sought for education reform in the United States.

To see the LawServer interactive map on mandatory school attendance ages click here.