First Lady Jane Beshear on Kentucky Dropout Law

By Lauren Forsythe | 

School districts in Kentucky now have the opportunity to raise their dropout age to 18.

Gov. Steve Beshear signed the Dropout Law yesterday, giving Kentucky school districts the option to raise their dropout age from 16 to 18.

"I think we are setting an expectation for all of our students that we expect them to stay in school until they graduate, and that process will give them the tools to have a successful life," First Lady Jane Beshear says.

If 55 percent of Kentucky's 173 districts choose to raise their dropout age, then all Kentucky schools will be mandated to raise their age within four years.

First Lady Beshear says three schools have already committed to changing their dropout age.

"I think we'll reach that 55 percent much sooner than anyone anticipated," says First Lady Beshear says.

"I think we'll get the 55 percent within a matter of a few years," says Rep. Jody Richards, (D) 20th District, "I think it's an acknowledgment that we have, that society has moved forward in such a way that more education is needed."

Bowling Green and Warren County School Districts will meet with their school boards in April to discuss the Dropout Law.

"We want all students to be educated. I know there's been question about the cost factor," says Warren County Schools Interim Superintendent, Kathy Goff, "To me, you can't put a dollar sign on it when you are educating a child and you are preparing them for the world. You don't put a dollar amount on that."

Bowling Green High School already has one of the lowest dropout rates in the state, below 2 percent.

Kentucky's average dropout rate is 2.9 percent.

"If we have kids who at the freshman year fail a number of classes and remain a freshman for a second year, we know that the likelihood of them graduating has been greatly reduced," says Bowling Green High School Principal Gary Fields.

Bowling Green High School has a program set up that allows students to make up credits if they get behind.

Their goal is to have all students graduate in four years.

Warren County and Bowling Green Schools both hope to make a decision about the dropout age before the next school year.

The last time the dropout age was changed in Kentucky was in 1920.

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