Maryland Compulsory Age of School Attendance Rises to 18
Maryland’s Compulsory Age of School Attendance Rises to 18 to Support Student Success
Posted on 07/25/2017

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 once they’ve met Maryland’s graduation requirements.

Over the years a small number of students chose not to continue until graduation once they reach the age of 16, or more recently age 17, as allowed under Maryland’s Age of Compulsory School Attendance law (Senate Bill 362, signed into law in 2012). Under that same law, as of July 1, 2017 the age for compulsory school attendance is now 18. Students may not withdraw from school prior to turning 18 or successfully graduating.

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 will help them be college and career ready.

Career and college planning occur throughout a student’s time in school, starting with classroom activities, visits by professionals, and events such as Career Day in elementary school. In middle school, students explore career tracks, view videos on occupations and opportunities, and begin to make a blueprint for their high school years using the Naviance platform for college and career readiness. Parents can access Naviance to work with the student on planning.

“Our school system is focused on supporting the success of every student in preparation for college, career, and life as an adult,” said Dr. Donna C. Hanlin, Superintendent of Schools. “We look forward to working with every student and family through that moment when they reach out to receive their Maryland High School Diploma.”

High school students begin traveling on their chosen path to college and career from the first day as a freshman, whether they’re interested in rigorous college preparation through Advanced Placement courses, specialized training through the Department of Career and Technology Education at Parkside High School starting in 10th Grade, leadership development through the JROTC program at Wicomico High School, or another track such as world languages, science or mathematics. After age 16 students can pursue dual enrollment, taking classes at Wor-Wic Community College, Salisbury University or University of Maryland Eastern Shore while still enrolled in high school. Some students earn a diploma through studies at Evening High School or the Choices Academy.

Data show 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).