Massachusetts is the latest state to consider raising the dropout age for students to 18 in an effort to improve graduation rates.
A bill, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, would also standardize use of an early warning system that would alert school administrators when a student might be at risk for dropping out. The state would also provide funding for schools to establish graduation coaches, following in Georgia's footsteps.
Eighteen other states and the District of Columbia already set the minimum dropout age at 18, according to the Education Commission of the States. The other states set the maximum age of mandatory attendance at 16 or 17.
“We have 70 percent of our jail and prison population people who have dropped out of high school,” Chang-Diaz said, adding that 70 percent of jobs in the near future will require some postsecondary education. “If we are not graduating all of our students, we are setting ourselves up for some serious economic problems down the road.”