Researchers Say States Should Require Students to Attend School Until 18
Photo: High school students
A growing body of research indicates that increasing the minimum school-leaving age to 18 not only increases high-school graduation rates but also significantly improves the life outcomes of students who otherwise would have become dropouts, according to an article in the winter 2013 Issues in Science and Technology.
In the article, authors Derek Messacar and Philip Oreopoulos of the University of Toronto write that high-school dropouts fare much worse than their peers on a wide variety of long-term outcomes. On average, a dropout earns less money, is more likely to be in jail, is less healthy, is less likely to be married, and is unhappier than a high-school graduate.
But although increasing the minimum school-leaving age has been demonstrated to significantly improve several life outcomes, more effort is also needed to keep students engaged in school, even at an early age.
If states invest in effective support programs, they can further increase graduation rates and reduce future costs of enforcing compulsory-schooling policies.