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Mass. Panel Backs A School Dropout Age Of 18

This article is more than 7 years old.

A legislative committee has voted to raise the Massachusetts school dropout age to 18.

Students are currently required to stay in school until age 16, with certain exceptions for children as young as 14.

The Legislature's Education Committee approved a bill Thursday that would raise the compulsory school attendance age to 18 and take other steps aimed at keeping students in school until graduation.

"We know the best way to keep our students on the path to graduation is to create a comprehensive plan that addresses the root cause of why students drop out in the first place," said Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz. "And that's the approach this bill takes."

The bill now heads to the Ways and Means Committee to determine how much it might cost the state before heading to the full House and Senate for a vote.

About 8,000 Massachusetts students drop out each year. Dropouts make up about 70 percent of the state's prison population.

The dropout age has been raised to 18 in 21 states, including Rhode Island.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

This program aired on March 8, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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