At its meeting yesterday, the Kentucky Board of Education and Education Commissioner Terry Holliday urged local school boards to “be courageous” and adopt a policy to raise the compulsory school attendance age to 18 effective in the 2015-16 school year.

The state board approved a resolution encouraging districts to be early adopters of the policy, “in order to send a strong message that completing high school is essential to ensuring that every student graduates college- and career-ready.”

Local boards of education can begin adopting such a policy on July 1 or thereafter that would take effect in the 2015-16 school year.

Commissioner Holliday announced a program to award $10,000 planning grants to the first 57 districts to approve a policy raising the dropout age prior to the 2015-16 school year.  The money can be used to develop a required plan for implementation that would include integration of career and technical education, engagement of the community and the use of community resources.

Legislation passed in the most recent General Assembly includes a provision that once 55 percent of districts adopt a policy requiring students to stay in school until they are 18, the remainder of districts must do so within four years. Early adoption of the policy would allow districts to inform students beginning with the Class of 2019 of the change and give school and district staffs time to plan for its successful implementation.

The resolution recognized the collaborative efforts of Governor Steve Beshear, First Lady Jane Beshear, the General Assembly, Commissioner Holliday, the state board and other partners to pass Senate Bill 97 to raise the compulsory school age from 16 to age 18.

In the past, students could drop out of school at 16 but as the resolution states, “this severely diminished their opportunities for success in life either in postsecondary education or a career.

A number of districts have already indicated their intention to be early adopters of the policy raising the compulsory school age to 18.