STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX -- Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson (LD29/LD3), introduced a bill Wednesday that would require students to stay in school until their 18th birthday or graduation.
“Right now, 24 percent of our students are not leaving high school with a diploma in hand,” Patterson said, citing statistics from the Arizona Department of Education. “We need to change that by giving students more incentives to do well in school, so that when they graduate, they are better prepared for college or a job.”
HB 2747 would increase the age at which a student can drop out of school from 16 to 18, and would eliminate the option to drop out of school after completing their sophomore year of high school. Instead, a student would be required to earn enough credits to graduate if they are still under 18.
Patterson hopes that keeping students in school will encourage them to perform better in classes, and therefore graduate with higher grades and GPAs that will be more appealing to colleges, universities, and prospective employers.
“As society and technology advance, so do the requirements for these emerging fields and professions,” Patterson said.
Another hope is that the measure persuades high-school students who graduate to stay in Arizona and add growth to the economy by going to school and starting careers here.
“We need to focus on creating jobs for middle-class families, and preparing these students for the jobs of the future,” Patterson said. “By staying in school, our kids will be able to compete for those jobs. It’s a step in the right direction.”