The Massachusetts legislature’s Education Committee has scheduled a vote for today on a bill that will raise the compulsory school attendance age to 18. President Obama proposed that all states enact this policy in his State of the Union address earlier this year, citing evidence that raising the age can lead to higher earnings and better lifetime outcomes.
While I applaud Massachusetts’ commitment to ensuring that policies are in place that support student success, laws alone are not enough to create incentives for some students to stay in school, or for schools to keep students engaged and attending, particularly students facing multiple challenges to graduation.
Successful schools engage those students who are close to dropping out or who have dropped out, and provide supports and programming to help them prepare for graduation, college, and careers. These include tutors and mentors, accelerated learning, “college knowledge,” and many other career and college readiness strategies. These schools also carefully analyze and act on student data to get the best outcomes. These Back on Track strategies are critical to student engagement, attendance, and success. Massachusetts’ lawmakers should continue to find ways to incentivize Back on Track strategies within states and districts.
Read more about JFF’s Six Pillars of Effective Dropout Prevention and Recovery and visit our Back on Track Through College website for additional tools and resources.
Photography copyright Mary Beth Meehan, 2010