As any homeschooler is aware, understanding the legal requirements of educating your children in a home setting can be as challenging as homeschooling itself.
It can be difficult to identify the processes associated with homeschooling, such as alerting your local school board, as well as ascertain when or even if an annual school report needs to be submitted. Overall, the laws regarding homeschooling can appear difficult to interpret.
Also, it should be noted that the laws differ from one state to another!
This guide provides you with all the information you need to understand your homeschooling legal rights according to each state.
It’s time to get comfortable and become acquainted with laws pertaining to homeschooling. We’ve gone over every detail, so you are sure to be an expert on the topic soon.
Firstly, which state law should I follow?
Don’t worry, this isn’t a silly question! It may be more perplexing than one would expect as a response.
In the US, home education is permitted, although each state has been given the liberty to set up their own regulations and there are distinctions between states when it comes to the legal necessities. It is imperative to be familiar with and comply with the regulations of the state in which you are teaching.
No matter the setting, the law holds all homeschoolers accountable to the same standard, so if you are educating your children outside of a traditional home, the same regulations apply.
Thus, for those families whose circumstances require them to remain away from their home state for some duration of time (e.g., due to military duty or professional obligations elsewhere), they must ensure that they ought to abide by the specific regulations regarding homeschooling of the state which they are temporarily occupying.
In other words, when you are teaching, the regulations you should abide by are those of the state where you are in physically, no matter if you call that place your permanent home or not.
You may be wondering what importance this has.
You would not expect the state regulations on homeschooling to vary a lot. Let’s analyze it and investigate the major dissimilarities throughout the nation.
Homeschool laws by state: the four “categories of notification” and what they mean
When it comes to schooling regulations on a state level, the US is divided into four distinct groups that depend on the amount of paperwork and direction required when a parent chooses to homeschool their children.
In some states, parents are obligated to take tests and have the results validated by a professional, while other states don’t require any notification.
The four categories, and states within them, are as follows:
- States requiring no notice: Idaho, Alaska, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
- States with low regulation: Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, and Delaware.
- States with moderate regulation: Washington, Oregon, Colorado, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Louisiana, Florida, Tennessee, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Maine, and Hawaii.
- States with high regulation: New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.
But what do these categories actually mean?
It is not just an uncomplicated matter, as certain states necessitate that you inform them of your intentions to home-school, while others do not.
These four categories are linked to the amount of regulation applied to homeschooling in each state apart from notification.
So let’s unpack these categories a little more.
States requiring no notice:
States that are “no notice” do not require any type of legal notification that you are educating your child at home. It is advised that you inform your district’s school that your child won’t be registering, and the reason for this.
States in this group have the fewest rules related to homeschooling in addition to notifying authorities. Although it is not possible to educate your kids as you desire, your legal commitments are lower than when compared to other states.
In New Jersey, state law demands that parents provide their child with an education that is comparable to what he or she could receive if they went to school.
Clearly, “equivalent” does not signify “comparable,” and this is where fewer regulations permit you to alter your youngster’s learning to their particular needs. As long as you make sure you cover the essential topics, the majority of ‘no notice’ states do not have a problem with you personalizing your lessons, without asking any queries.
It is essential to follow other laws, like the one that requires children to go to school. The exact age range may vary depending on where you live, but children usually learn at home from ages 6 to 18. Only in Texas is the age increased to 19.
States with low regulation:
States with low regulation require a degree of notification.
In the state of California, you have to file a sworn statement with the local school district every year to verify your child is being homeschooled. In Arizona, family members are obligated to give the government a duplicate of the birth certificate of their kid, as well as a detailed declaration of their kids’s home schooling position.
In addition to the requirement to inform people, some states with fewer regulations also emphasize the importance of filing and maintaining records. In Georgia, it is necessary to produce yearly development reviews and store them safely for a maximum of three years.
In some states, it is necessary for parents who are homeschooling their child to record their academic pursuits, which can be requested in specified situations.
In states with low regulation of homeschooling, parents must educate their children for a set amount of time (170-180 days) and must keep doing so until the obligatory school age is reached, like in the rest of the US.
The primary contrast between “no notice” and “low regulation” states is that in the latter, there is a legal mandate to inform the appropriate authorities that a child is being taught at home. This must be done either yearly or periodically, depending on the location.
States with moderate regulation:
States such as Oregon and Colorado, which already have moderate home schooling regulations, have implemented additional rules and regulations in regards to testing, qualifications, and documentation.
In addition to notifying your decision to home educate your child, certain states also require you to fulfill other obligations.
Assessment & Intervention Quick Facts
What do the required assessments look like?
In certain states, an assessment must happen every year, while in other regions, it only gets done after certain gradeyears (Georgia, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, and Tennessee only require assessments to take place after just three or four grades). The most common forms of evaluation are tests that are conducted in the same manner for all participants and reviews of portfolios. In some areas, mom and dad can get their children tested in their public schools, although most decide to have the evaluation done outside of the public system. A portfolio review includes the compilation of a compilation of student work like reading lists, math tests, science lab notes, and writing samples to be evaluated by a certified teacher or specialist.
How many states require testing and how many require portfolio reviews?
Eight states rely on standardized testing (Georgia, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee), ten states allow parents to choose between standardized testing and portfolio reviews (Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia), and three states mandate testing for some years and allow parents to choose between testing and portfolio reviews for other years (Hawaii, New York, Pennsylvania). Maryland uses portfolio evaluations to assess students, while Massachusetts and Rhode Island give their school districts the freedom to choose what form of assessment to utilize.
What academic threshold must homeschooled students meet?
A certified teacher typically must review and approve the development of the student in order to take the portfolio option. Despite it being seen in most states, there is no oversight to ascertain that the people doing the assessments execute their duties properly and no criterion to assist instructors in assessing portfolios of learners. Standardized testing requirements have their problems as well. In certain cases, the minimum score mandatory by states on standard tests can reach as low as the 15th percentile (e.g. Oregon) and even the 13th percentile (e.g. Colorado). Unless a pupil is struggling academically, there should be no need to intervene. In addition, a majority of states give parents the authority to carry out standardized exams for their kids, which can be a problem for clear reasons. In certain states, the enforcement of the home education regulations is pretty lenient. Some folks who homeschool might not register with their state or they might not finish the qualification process. In a lot of circumstances, it is the responsibility of local school districts to implement the rules, however they often lack enough resources and support to do so.
Are private “umbrella” schools required to provide assessments?
In Washington State, the only area that necessitates evaluations for homeschool students that are enrolled in private “umbrella” schools is something that must be followed. Other places do not mandate assessments in the same way. Tennessee asks schools in the state to give assessment tests, but it doesn’t enforce it. Meanwhile, Maryland requires homeschooled students to get face-to-face instruction from the “umbrella” schools that accept them, although it does not oblige any assessments. Although a few private “umbrella” schools provide cooperative classes and developmental activities, they normally don’t impose any demands beyond their state’s lawful fundamentals.