LEXINGTON, Ky. - Raising the school dropout age from 16 to 18 will once again be a focus for the Kentucky Chamber and education leaders when the General Assembly convenes in Frankfort next year.
State lawmakers could not reach an agreement on the issue during the previous legislative session.
Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Tom Shelton served on the Graduate Kentucky Steering Committee which issued a report earlier this year highlighting the significance of the dropout problem. He says educators can’t wait until high school to start reaching out to at-risk students.
“A student uses the 16 year age or the 18 year age, either one, as just their avenue to get out. But they really dropped out much much earlier. They made that decision earlier and they’re not engaged or involved because of an achievement gap because we’re not meeting their needs. So we’ve got to look to make sure we’re providing the right opportunity so kids are not even thinking about dropping out.”
A loophole in the dropout age law also needs to be addressed. Shelton says many parents give their permission for a student to leave school by sending a letter to the superintendent saying the child will be homeschooled, but there is little accountability to ensure that actually happens.