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Student Accountability Initiatives: State Has Set 18 as Upper Compulsory School Age

These laws relate to the upper age states set for mandatory student attendance, which are typically from 16-18. Parents and guardians who fail to send their compulsory age children to school typically face criminal penalties.

Why does it matter? Parents and students need to know that attendance matters, and that there are consequences to not attending school.

Highlights:

  • Twenty states have set 18 as the upper compulsory age.
  • Eight states (Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Tennessee) have set 17 as the upper compulsory age.
  • Twenty-two states have set 16 as the upper compulsory age.
  • Two states (Massachusetts and Missouri) allow the local education agency to determine the upper compulsory age.

    Methodology: This information was collected from state statutes, rules and regulations, and state education agencies, and will be updated as new policies and programs are enacted.

    Sources for all data points are available through this link.

    Last updated: July 30, 2007

    Research conducted by Michael Colasanti. Please contact Jennifer Dounay Zinth at 303.299.3689 or jdounay@ecs.org with comments or questions about this database.
  • State has set 18 as upper compulsory school age
    Alabama No, the upper compulsory age is 16
    Alaska No, the upper compulsory age is 16
    American Samoa
    Arizona No, the upper compulsory age is 16
    Arkansas No, the upper compulsory age is 17
    California Yes
    Colorado No, the upper compulsory age is 17
    Connecticut Yes
    Delaware No, the upper compulsory age is 16
    District of Columbia Yes
    Florida No, the upper compulsory age is 16
    Georgia No, the upper compulsory age is 16
    Hawaii Yes
    Idaho No, the upper compulsory age is 16
    Illinois No, the upper compulsory age is 17
    Indiana Yes
    Iowa No, the upper compulsory age is 16
    Kansas Yes
    Kentucky No, the upper compulsory age is 16
    Louisiana Yes
    Maine No, the upper compulsory age is 17
    Maryland No, the upper compulsory age is 16
    Massachusetts No, the upper compulsory age is set by the local school board
    Michigan No, the upper compulsory age is 16
    Minnesota No, the upper compulsory age is 16
    Mississippi No, the upper compulsory age is 17
    Missouri No, the upper compulsory age is determined by the local school district
    Montana No, the upper compulsory age is 16
    Nebraska Yes
    Nevada Yes
    New Hampshire Yes
    New Jersey No, the upper compulsory age is 16
    New Mexico Yes
    New York No, the upper compulsory age is 16
    North Carolina No, the upper compulsory age is 16
    North Dakota No, the upper compulsory age is 16
    Ohio Yes
    Oklahoma Yes
    Oregon Yes
    Pennsylvania No, the upper compulsory age is 17
    Puerto Rico No, there is no upper compulsory age
    Rhode Island No, the upper compulsory age is 16
    South Carolina No, the upper compulsory age is 17
    South Dakota Yes
    Tennessee No, the upper compulsory age is 17
    Texas Yes
    Utah Yes
    Vermont No, the upper compulsory age is 16
    Virgin Islands No, the upper compulsory age is 16
    Virginia Yes
    Washington Yes
    West Virginia No, the upper compulsory age is 16
    Wisconsin Yes
    Wyoming No, the upper compulsory age is 16


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