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