Monday, January 4, 2010

Dropout Dilemma

Governor Jennifer Granholm just signed a law that raises the dropout age from 16 to 18, saying that we need to be concerned about outcomes. And of course, it is a great embarrassment that there are school systems where 50%--yes, half--of the students drop out before they graduate.

On the other hand, now that I have an actual, live 17-year-old in my house, I feel pretty confident saying that if my 17-year-old didn't want to graduate, there is no way I could make him go to school every day. So it's a good thing he wants to go to college, eh? If he saw no difference in his future whether he graduated or not, if he chose to skip class every day, I guess that I (as parent/guardian) could be prosecuted for contributing to a child's delinquency.

The Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy analyzed the issue and wrote a policy brief, Raise the Age, Lower the Dropout Rate? Considerations for Policy Makers.
The Rennie Center examines the arguments for and against raising the compulsory age of school attendance to 18 [in Massacusetts] and concludes that there is no credible empirical evidence to support this policy alone as an effective strategy to combat the dropout crisis. The Center argues that prior to considering a raise in the compulsory age of attendance, the Commonwealth should focus its energy and resources on developing policies and programs that research has shown to be successful in helping at-risk students stay in school and persist to earning a diploma.


  1. But what politician would argue against this? They would look "soft" on education. The horse is out of the barn on this one. (sigh)

  2. Absolutely! The main thing is that--on its own--it probably won't help. With supportive services, it could make a difference.

    I was thinking that one technique that works for both gifted students (a different person made a comment about that on the Special Education and Homeschooling post) and those just itching to be out of school one way or another, is to let students take extra credits and graduate early.