A considerable body of scholarship has examined the history of compulsory attendance in the United States in an effort to explain why compulsory attendance laws were enacted, what effects they had on school attendance rates, and what made enforcement of these laws effective eventually. Recent research has revealed that some long-standing assumptions and conclusions about compulsory attendance warrant reconsideration. For example, the assumptions that educators promoted compulsory attendance and that compulsory attendance laws were enacted when state legislators responded to educators' demands disregard the historical reality that educators and state teachers' associations generally did not support compulsory attendance and that the biggest proponent of compulsory attendance legislation was a faction of the Republican Party. Similarly, the conventional periodization of compulsory attendance laws into two phases—“symbolic” and “bureaucratic”—obscures several facts. The conventional periodization holds that before the 1890s compulsory attendance laws were merely symbolic because the laws enacted were “unenforced and probably unenforceable.” During the bureaucratic phase, between the 1890s and 1920s, new compulsory attendance laws —“strong laws” with teeth—were passed, which finally made compulsory attendance effective. This periodization obscures the facts that (1) compulsory attendance did not develop in any linear or progressive fashion as much as in a “two steps forward, one step back” manner; (2) the state had limited power to enforce even “enforceable” compulsory attendance laws in the early twentieth century when most funding was local not state funding; and (3) compulsory attendance laws were not tremendously effective, accounting for no more than 5 percent of the increase in school attendance in the first half of the twentieth century.