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NJ Bill Would Raise High School Dropout Age‎ to 18

Keeping kids in school longer, experts contend, is only one part of a larger solution

Even before President Obama pressed the idea in his State of the Union message, New Jersey and other states were looking to address the dropout crisis by keeping kids in school until they're 18.

Seven states have upped the age in the past decade; 11 others -- including New Jersey -- have introduced legislation in the past five years.

In all, 21 states require students to stay in school until 18 or their graduation.

But as New Jersey's bill to raise the age from 16 to 18 gets new life, including a hearing Monday in the state Senate, it is becoming apparent that just upping the age is no quick fix -- or even a slow one.

"In those states [that have raised the age], there has not been much evidence that it has had an impact," said Jennifer Zinth, a policy analyst with the Education Commission of the States, a Denver-based organization that follows state policies.

A report by a Massachusetts think-tank, completed in 2009 as that state was considering a new bill, said there may be a minimal gain in raising the age for students on the cusp.

"However, it is important to note that the most prominent advocates of the policy acknowledge that raising the compulsory school age alone will not result in fewer dropouts and more graduates," read the report by the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy. "They argue that this policy must be coupled with other actions and new alternatives to help at-risk students progress through high school."

New Jersey public schools have the highest recorded graduation rate in the country -- over 80 percent. But the dropout crisis is real in many of its cities, where in some high schools as many as half of the freshmen don't go on to graduate.

Still, the move to raise the compulsory age has never gotten much traction in the Statehouse in years past, usually derailed by concerns over short-term costs. And while those concerns remain, legislators said it was time to reconsider the long-term costs of not addressing the problem.

Continue reading this article at NJ Spotlight

Editor's Note: The Senate Education Committee approved the bill Monday. Updates are planned before it goes to the full state senate

zizi February 09, 2012 at 07:32 PM
A kid who is in school only because of a law will cause more troubles for the kids who are in school trying to get a decent education. Someone should study if passing this law is good for the good kids who study and graduate on time........
Karin Kiesow-Irvine February 09, 2012 at 09:34 PM
I don't agree with forcing kids to stay in school till 18 but if we are going to do that we should expand the vo-tech schools. Not every child is college material and we always need mechanics/plumbers/electricians -basically skilled labor!
kadiah walker February 01, 2013 at 05:18 PM
whats the point of forceing someone to be somewhere they don't want to be.iys a waste of time for teachers if their not going pay any attention or keep up with school work thier gonna just be disruptive and distaract other students
Kim February 16, 2013 at 06:53 PM
Kids that drop out deserve an education. They most likely are having issues or problems in school that the school does not feel responsible to help them with because they know they can just drop out. If they increase the age to 18, both the students and schools will be held more accountable for doing their jobs since they do hotter to just run from the problems. There also needs to be other things in place too so not to create a disruptive environment for those students who are on track and doing well.

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