Compulsory Attendance Age Rising in 2015-16

Looking Ahead: Maryland’s Compulsory Age of School Attendance Rising to Support Student Success

Wicomico County Public Schools wants all students to become college and career ready during their school years and to enjoy that walk across the stage to receive a diploma when they’ve met Maryland’s graduation requirements.


Right now, a small number of students choose not to continue until graduation once they reach the age of 16. But under the new Age of Compulsory School Attendance law (Senate Bill 362, signed into law in 2012), the age for compulsory school attendance will rise to 17 in the 2015-2016 school year, and to 18 in the 2017-2018 school year.

Students who are 14 and 15 right now (mostly 9th-graders) will be required to remain enrolled in school until they are at least 18, as they are likely to be 17 when the age rises to 17 during their junior year (2016-2017), and 18 in their senior year (2017-2018), when the age rises to 18.

Students who are currently 13 (mostly grades 7 and 8) or younger will be required to remain enrolled until age 18, graduation, or an alternative educational program or other circumstance, as detailed in SB 362.

Students who are 15 or older right now (mostly 10th grade and above) will not be affected by the change in Maryland’s age for compulsory public school attendance, as they will be 17 or older when the age increases to 17 for the 2015-16 school year. They are on track to graduate prior to the compulsory age of school attendance rising to 18 in 2017-2018.

Maryland’s rising age for compulsory school attendance is designed to support students in building an educational foundation that will yield benefits for a lifetime. Students who stay in school through graduation can take full advantage of classes, programs, extracurricular activities and guidance that can help them be college and career ready.

Gov. Martin O’Malley, in endorsing the increased age for school attendance, said that dropouts in Maryland need public assistance more than high school graduates, earn less over a lifetime, and have poorer health outcomes than those who graduate high school (The Taskforce on Dropout Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery, 1998). Dropouts comprised more than 42% of those entered into the Maryland Juvenile Justice System between school years 2007-2011 and 57.2% of adult offenders entering the Department of Corrections in 2011 (The Task Force to Study High School Dropout Rates of Persons in the Criminal Justice System, 2012).