Dropout Age

Every morning, the familiar routine plays out in hundreds of thousands of classrooms: A teacher looks out over the desks, taking note of who's in their seats and who isn't.

On any given day, maybe there are one or two empty chairs. One here, one there. And that all goes into the school's daily attendance rate.

But here's what that morning ritual doesn't show: That empty desk? It might be the same one that was empty last week or two weeks ago. The desk of a student who has racked up five, 10, 20 absences this year.

Ky. Department of Education

  As the dropout age increases to 18 for most Kentucky public schools next academic year, the state education department will be closely monitoring its data.

Among the indicators that will be watched is the number of students who opt out for homeschooling.

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Caldwell County School officials are waiting to increase the district's minimum dropout age because the district is not prepared to implement a program to prevent students from dropping out past the age of 16.

More than 100 districts have increased their dropout age to 18 voluntarily, in part, to receive a $10-thousand incentive from the Commonwealth.

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Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is urging remaining school districts to be proactive in increasing the minimum dropout age from sixteen to eighteen.

So far, 105 school districts have voluntarily approved the policy change. 

Just two weeks since Kentucky allowed school districts to voluntarily adopt the new compulsory dropout age of 18, enough districts have approved the policy to make it mandatory statewide in four years.

Gov. Steve Beshear and Education Commissioner Terry Holliday announced today that 96 districts—or 55 percent—have adopted the new policy raising the dropout age from 16, which has been in place since 1934, according to state officials.

In four years, Kentucky students won't be able to drop out of school until they're 18.

It appears that enough Kentucky school districts have, or plan to back increasing the compulsory dropout age from 16 to 18 to put the state over the threshold needed to make the change mandatory statewide.

More than 20 school districts that have not yet acted on the policy are scheduled to meet this week, and WFPL has confirmed several of those districts plan to adopt the policy.

Kentucky Education Association-Facebook

The new president of Kentucky’s teacher union indicates educators are ready for a tougher minimum dropout age.  Many school districts have already acted to increase the minimum from 16 to 18-years-old.  Kentucky Education Association President Stephanie Winkler says teachers see the higher minimum drop-out age as an opportunity

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Kentucky education commissioner Terry Holliday says the first 57 school districts that raise their dropout age from 16 to 18 will be given a $10,000 state grant.

Holliday made the announcement Wednesday during a state Board of Education meeting in Frankfort. Just before the announcement, board members voted unanimously to adopt a resolution urging Kentucky's 174 school districts to raise the dropout age as soon as possible.

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After five years of advocacy, supporters of raising Kentucky's dropout age to 18 celebrated Monday as Gov. Steve Beshear signed the bill into law.

The Kentucky House approved on Monday legislation that gradually raises the age when students can drop out of school—a compromise reached after past efforts to strike a deal failed. The dropout bill allows local school boards to choose whether to raise the dropout age to 18. After 55 percent of Kentucky's school boards raise the drop out limit, the change in four years becomes mandatory statewide.

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