House Bill 5061: Raises Compulsory School Attendance Age to 18

Rhode Island
Rhode Island

Last Updated: July 1, 2011
House Bill 5061: Raises Compulsory School Attendance Age to 18
Representatives McNamara, Diaz, and Savage

This bill would increase the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18. This bill contains no exemption for graduation from high school in a homeschool program. The only way a student would be exempt would be if he were admitted to an accredited college or if a superintendent approved an alternate educational program for the student (which would essentially be a different form of school attendance).

HSLDA's Position:
Action Requested:
None at this time

01/19/2011 (House) Introduced, referred to House Health, Education and Welfare Committee
02/16/2011 (House) Scheduled for hearing and/or consideration
02/16/2011 (House) Committee recommended measure be held for further study
03/23/2011 (House) Committee recommends passage
06/16/2011 (House) Placed on House Calendar
06/22/2011 (House) Read and passed
06/23/2011 (Senate) Referred to Senate Education
06/30/2011 (Senate) Scheduled for hearing and/or consideration
06/30/2011 (Senate) Committee recommends passage in concurrence
06/30/2011 (Senate) Placed on Senate Calendar
07/01/2011 (Senate) Passed in concurrence

This bill has been signed by the Governor, and is now law.


Not all 16 and 17-year-olds belong in a formal school setting. Some would be better off in a work training program, apprenticeship, obtaining valuable work experience, etc. This decision belongs to parents, not state officials.

Pushing unwilling older students into the classroom will disrupt the other students who truly want to learn. Since many 17-year-olds have the size and strength of adults, classrooms could become even more violent.

Raising the compulsory age does not help young people. Some of the states with the highest graduation rates have the lowest compulsory attendance cut-off age.
Most states have a compulsory attendance cut-off age of 16 or less.

Taxes would inevitably rise to pay for more classroom space and teachers. When California raised the upper age limit of compulsory attendance, taxpayers were forced to pay for the building of new schools just to handle the older, unwilling students and their behavior problems.

For more information on compulsory attendance, please see our memorandum.

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill History