Kentucky school boards approval keeps students in classrooms until age 18

01/29/2015 03:01 PM

FRANKFORT — All 173 school districts in the Commonwealth of Kentucky have approved the policy of raising the dropout age from 16 to 18, amending the school attendance law created in 1934.

Senate Bill 97 (2013), also known as the “Graduate Kentucky” bill, cleared the way for each district to raise the age to 18.

The Kentucky Department of Education provided each early adopting district with a $10,000 grant to plan for implementation of the higher drop out age.

Most of the state’s districts will officially implement the policy for the 2015/16 school year with a handful, who adopted the policy late in 2014 or January of this year, will have the plan implemented for the 2016/17 school year.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, First Lady Jane Beshear and Kentucky Department of Education Secretary Terry Holliday were in Frankfort to celebrate the announcement on Thursday.

“Keeping our kids in school until age 18 or they graduate will have a significant impact, not only on the lives of the individual students, but also the collective capacity, the competitive strength of Kentucky and its work force,” Gov. Beshear said.

Beshear said it’s never been clearer that the key to having any type of success in the workforce and life begins with graduating from high school.

“High school graduates are more likely to be employed, earn higher wages, live longer and raise healthier, educated children,” Beshear said.

Raising the drop out age has also been a priority for First Lady Jane Beshear, who says the policy will show students that the expectation is there for achievement.

“By adopting this policy, we are letting our students, our parents and our teachers know that we expect them to succeed and we believe that they are capable of success, “ said First Lady Jane Beshear.

Gov. Beshear admits that a lot has been accomplished in improving education during his two terms in office but the work is far from finished.

“I’m very proud of how far we’ve come,” Beshear said. “When you look at the college and career readiness rate and how we have taken that from 38 percent back in 2010 and now we’re at 62 percent. That’s a miraculous increase in such a short period of time, but it’s just at 62 percent.”

It’s expected that keeping kids in school until age 18 will help drive up Kentucky’s graduation rate, which, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, for the 2012/13 school year, was the fourth highest rate in the country at 86 percent, placing Kentucky tied for ninth-highest among all states.


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