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PHOENIX A state legislator wants to decrease the high school dropout rate by making sure students stay in school until they're 18 years old.

Rep. Daniel Patterson introduced a bill on Thursday that increases the age a student can drop out from 16 to 18 and removes the option for students to drop out after their sophomore year.

Students under 18 will instead have to have earned a diploma or GED diploma before leaving school.

The Tucson Democrat says making students stay in school will leave them better prepared to meet requirements for college or jobs.

The most recent statistics available from the Arizona Department of Education show that about 24 percent of high school students don't graduate.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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