President Obama said in his 2012 State of the Union address that he wants states to change their laws to require that all students be required to stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18 years old.

The age at which students can legally leave school varies in the states, though most have set the minimum drop-out age at 16 or 17.

There are already about 15 states, plus the District of Columbia, that have set their dropout age at 18. They include Florida and Virginia. Maryland allows students to drop out at 16.

“We also know that when students aren’t allowed to walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma,” he said in the State of the Union. “So tonight, I call on every State to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn eighteen.”

In most countries, the age that students are allowed to leave school is the same as their minimum age for full-time employment.

Obama has set as a goal that by 2020 all adult Americans would have committed to at least one year of higher education or career training and America would have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

That isn’t going to happen, given the pace of the increase in high school graduation, according to a 2011 reported called “Building a Grad Nation,” (issued by Civic Enterprises, the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University and America’s Promise Alliance).

The report says that the national graduation rate increased from 72 percent in 2002 to 75 percent in 2008. But it also says this:

The pace is too slow to meet the national goal of a 90 percent high school graduation rate by 2020. We must calibrate our educational system to the greater demands of the 21st century through a Civic Marshall Plan to make more accelerated progress in boosting student achievement, high school graduation rates, and college- and career-readiness for our nation to meet national goals and fulfill the promise of the next generation.”


Follow The Answer Sheet every day by bookmarking