Compulsory Attendance Laws

CONCERN

Eliminating state oversight of home education will go away with compulsory attendance laws.

REALITY

Since 1980:
  • State oversight of home education has decreased, but
  • The percentage of school-aged children enrolled in public schools has increased.
  • The average rate of increase is the same in states with substantive oversight as in states without substantive oversight.

From 1980-1996, the percentage of school-aged children who were enrolled in public schools grew by 5.41% in the U.S. (from 86.2% to 90.9%).

Of the 26 jurisdictions with no substantive oversight of home-educated children:

  • 11 states had a public school enrollment percentage growth greater than the U.S. average
  • 15 states had a public school enrollment percentage growth less than the U.S. average
  • Collectively, the states had an average enrollment percentage growth of 5.08%

Of the 25 jurisdictions with substantive oversight of home-educated children:

  • 11 states had a public school enrollment percentage growth greater than the U.S. average
  • 14 states had a public school enrollment percentage growth less than the U.S. average
  • Collectively, the states had an average enrollment percentage growth of 4.76%

The degree of state oversight of home-educated children does not correlate with the rate at which school-aged children enroll in public schools.

Absence of state oversight of home-educated children does not do away with compulsory attendance.

SOURCE
"Estimated school-age population and public school enrollment, by state: 1980 to 1996",
National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education

Public school enrollment as a percentage of school-aged population, by state: 1980 to 1996 [Numbers in thousands]
State 1980 1996 Percent Change
United States 86.23% 90.89% 5.41%
States with NO substantive oversight of home educated students
Alabama 87.61% 95.12% 8.57%
Alaska 94.04% 93.34% -0.74%
Arizona 88.89% 92.91% 4.52%
Califoia 87.08% 90.27% 3.66%
Colorado 92.24% 92.51% 0.29%
Connecticut 83.30% 90.97% 9.20%
Delaware 79.52% 87.74% 10.33%
District of Columbia 91.79% 105.55% 14.99%
Idaho 95.42% 95.06% -0.38%
Illinois 82.61% 87.52% 5.94%
Indiana 87.97% 90.41% 2.78%
Kansas 88.74% 91.74% 3.39%
Kentucky 83.72% 93.39% 11.54%
Louisiana 80.24% 85.82% 6.96%
Maine 91.56% 95.86% 4.69%
Michigan 86.94% 89.12% 2.51%
Mississippi 79.64% 91.33% 14.68%
Missouri 83.79% 86.01% 2.64%
Montana 92.93% 94.30% 1.47%
Nebraska 86.55% 88.79% 2.59%
Nevada 93.43% 96.29% 3.07%
New Jersey 81.55% 86.29% 5.82%
New Mexico 89.50% 90.55% 1.17%
Oklahoma 92.90% 95.00% 2.27%
Texas 92.45% 98.43% 6.47%
Wisconsin 82.12% 87.95% 7.09%
Total: No substantive oversight 87.56% 92.01% 5.08%
Public school enrollment as a percentage of school-aged population, by state: 1980 to 1996 [Numbers in thousands]
State 1980 1996 Percent Change
United States 86.23% 90.89% 5.41%
States WITH substantive oversight of home educated students
Arkansas 90.26% 94.44% 4.63%
Florida 84.42% 90.81% 7.57%
Georgia 86.82% 94.31% 8.63%
Hawaii 83.37% 87.67% 5.16%
Iowa 88.39% 93.95% 6.29%
Maryland 83.87% 88.34% 5.33%
Massachusetts 88.63% 90.86% 2.52%
Minnesota 87.20% 89.87% 3.06%
New Hampshire 85.32% 88.45% 3.66%
New York 80.85% 87.73% 8.52%
North Carolina 90.06% 90.84% 0.86%
North Dakota 85.94% 93.25% 8.50%
Ohio 84.85% 88.13% 3.87%
Oregon 88.50% 0.08% 1.79%
Pennsylvania 80.36% 84.73% 5.44%
Rhode Island 80.08% 87.90% 9.75%
South Carolina 88.08% 94.88% 7.72%
South Dakota 87.42% 93.41% 6.85%
Tennessee 87.82% 93.02% 5.92%
Utah 98.18% 97.57% -0.62%
Vermont 87.90% 96.04% 9.26%
Virginia 90.70% 93.13% 2.68%
Washington 91.72% 92.47% 0.82%
West Virginia 92.63% 96.33% 3.99%
Wyoming 97.33% 96.84% -0.50%
Total: With substantive oversight 87.63% 91.80% 4.76%

NOTE.--Because of students outside the normal age range, percents may exceed 100. Because of rounding, details may not add to totals.Utah is listed as with substantive oversight based on the laws in effect during the period 1980-1996.