Stay up-to-date on State and Local Homeschooling Laws
Since homeschooling became legal in the United States in 1992, the number of homeschoolers has grown exponentially. According to The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), there are currently 5 million homeschooled students in the United States.
That’s a lot of kids! And with each state having its own set of laws governing homeschooling, it can be tricky to stay up-to-date on what’s required in your area. Not sure where to start? No problem!
This post will give you an overview of state and local homeschooling laws, so you can rest assured that you’re operating within the law.
State Homeschooling Laws
Each state has its own set of laws governing homeschooling. These laws generally fall into three categories: compulsory attendance (attendance requirements), curriculum, and notification/record keeping.
- Compulsory Attendance: This refers to the age at which students must begin attending school and the minimum number of days students must be in school or otherwise engaged in a home education program. The majority of states require that children between 6-16 years old attend school regularly; however, there are some exceptions, with some states having different ages for starting school. Additionally, most states have a minimum number of days that must be attended or documented in order for the homeschool program to remain compliant with state law.
- Curriculum Requirements: States typically have certain requirements that must be met for students to receive credit for their homeschool education. These usually include things like English, math, science, and history courses as well as electives such as art and music classes.
- Testing Requirements: A number of states require homeschoolers to participate in standardized testing to measure their progress. This can be done through a public or private school or an online program.
- Record-Keeping Requirements: States may also require parents to keep records of their homeschooling activities and submit them to the local school district. These might include attendance and progress reports, lesson plans, and other materials used in the course of instruction.
- Notification/Registration Requirements: Depending on the state, parents may be required to register or notify the local school district that they are homeschooling their child. Some states require an annual notification, while others do not.
Here are examples of homeschool laws in different states:
In Alabama, parents who wish to homeschool must notify their local education authority of the children they will be homeschooling and their address by the fifth day of the public school year or before the child is withdrawn from a public school.
If a child already attends an Alabama public school, notification and official withdrawal must both be sent before beginning homeschooling. The instructor does not need to have any specific qualifications.
Homeschoolers in Alabama are required to provide 180 days of instruction each year, and no predetermined educational subjects must be taught. Records should be kept showing attendance throughout the year, but students are not required to participate in any testing activities.
In Alaska, homeschooling regulations do not mandate informing the local school district that you are homeschooling a child. Parents must submit a form for withdrawal if the student is currently enrolled in an Alaskan public institution.
The instructor does not have to adhere to any particular qualifications, and there’s no requirement for daily or yearly hours of instruction. Moreover, no specific educational subjects need to be taught, and parents don’t have to take records of their homeschooling efforts.
Lastly, independent families who choose this method of education do not have to participate in testing.
In Arizona, it is necessary to file an affidavit of intent with the county school superintendent within thirty days of beginning homeschooling. This document must be notarized and usually requires a copy of the student’s birth certificate.
If they are already enrolled in public school, an affidavit and a withdrawal letter must also be sent. In case you move counties, another affidavit needs to be issued for that area, and a notification sent to the previous one.
The instructor does not have to have any specific qualifications, nor is there a required number of hours or days for homeschooling. Five educational subjects must be taught: reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies, and science.
In Arkansas, you are required to inform your local school district superintendent of your intention to homeschool by August 15th of each year. If your child is already enrolled in a public school, you must submit a Notice of Intent and send an official letter of withdrawal from the school.
There are no specific qualifications necessary for the homeschool instructor; however, if a sex offender is residing in the home, homeschooling cannot take place.
The state does not mandate how many hours per day or days per year to be devoted to instruction, nor does it specify any particular educational subjects that need to be taught. Record-keeping and testing requirements do not apply to homeschoolers in Arkansas.
In the state of Florida, a Notice of Intent form must be submitted to the local school district superintendent during the first month of homeschooling for any child six years or older as of February 1st. Once this document is filed, parents then need to notify their child’s school that they are withdrawing them.
The requirements for homeschool instructors are nonexistent, and there are no specific hours or days in which students need to be educated each year. Furthermore, there is no required list of education subjects for such students. Homeschoolers must maintain an updated portfolio with all documents and materials, which will be inspected by the superintendent every year.
In Georgia, parents must submit a Declaration of Intent to the Department of Education within 30 days of beginning homeschooling. This must be filed annually before September 1st, and an official withdrawal notice should also be submitted if required.
The instructor for homeschooled students in the state must have at least a high school diploma or GED and only teach their children.
Homeschooling should consist of 4.5 hours of instruction per day over 180 days throughout the year, covering the five core subject areas such as reading, language arts, math, social studies, and science.
Parents are responsible for making an annual progress report and keeping copies of Declarations of Intent and test scores on file as records. Standardized testing is also required every three years in grades 3, 6, and 9.
In Hawaii, the state oversees homeschooling, and families must file a Notice of Intent before starting. Parents are not required to have any formal qualifications or set number of hours for teaching their children.
For elementary students, eight subjects should be covered: language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, art, music, health, and physical education. Secondary-level students must study seven subjects: social studies, English, mathematics, science, health, physical education, and guidance.
Records of curriculum plans for each student must be kept, as well as test scores and work samples. Lastly, pupils in third grade (grade 3), fifth grade (grade 5), eighth grade (grade 8), and tenth grade (grade 10) are all obliged to take part in the statewide testing program.
In New Jersey, parents who choose to homeschool their children are not required to notify the school district. Instead, if a child is being withdrawn from school, their school and superintendent need to be notified with a withdrawal letter. There is no specific qualification or instruction that an instructor needs to teach homeschooling classes.
Although there are no strictly-mandated educational subjects, similar types of instruction should still be provided. Additionally, it is optional for parents to keep records of their home education plan. Finally, homeschooled students in New Jersey do not have to participate in any testing.
In New York, parents and guardians who choose to homeschool their children must send a Letter of Intent to their school district 14 days after they begin homeschooling. An Individual Home Instruction Plan (IHIP) must be filled out and returned at the end of the first year by July 1st. The proper forms must be completed if a student needs to withdraw from the program.
All homeschoolers in New York must also be taught for 180 days or 900/990 hours per year, depending on grade level. Patriotism and citizenship, health education, highway safety, traffic regulation, and fire and arson prevention safety are all subjects that need to be covered yearly.
Records such as attendance records, quarterly reports, test scores or evaluations, and a copy of the Letter of Intent should also be kept on file.
Finally, homeschoolers in New York are required to participate in testing each year either at a local public school, a non-public school, or at home with a professional. Grades 1-3 can opt for an academic evaluation instead.
Local Homeschooling Laws
In addition to state laws, there may also be local homeschooling laws or regulations. These can vary from state to state, so it is important to check with your local school district for specific guidelines.
The first step in understanding local homeschooling laws is to understand the role of local school districts and governments. Local school districts are responsible for setting regulations and policies within their jurisdiction, including those related to homeschooling. This means that even if your state has a relaxed approach to homeschooling, the district or county you live in may have more stringent requirements.
In general, most local jurisdictions require parents who wish to homeschool their children to submit either a “notice of intent” or an “affidavit of enrollment” with the local school board or superintendent. These documents essentially serve as proof that the parent is indeed taking responsibility for their child’s education. Parents should also be aware that some states require that homeschoolers take standardized tests periodically to ensure that the student is progressing academically.
When it comes to curriculum and instruction, local laws can vary widely. Some school districts may require parents to follow specific curricular guidelines, while others request that parents provide proof of a “suitable education” for their child.
Finally, it’s important to note that some localities may have additional regulations beyond those set by the state. This could include having a certified teacher review your homeschool curriculum or requiring you to submit an annual portfolio of your child’s work for the inspection. Ensure you check with your school district for additional requirements before beginning homeschooling in your area.
Tips On How to Stay Up-To-Date On State and Local Homeschooling Laws
To stay up-to-date on the ever-changing homeschooling laws, it is important to do your research.
- Start by checking with your state’s Department of Education for information about the specific laws regulating homeschooling in your area.
- Research any changes that have been made recently to ensure you comply with all current regulations.
- Speak to other families who homeschool in your state or local area and ask what they know about the latest laws and requirements for homeschooling.
- Stay informed by reading news articles and blogs related to home education to stay up-to-date on new developments in this field of education.
- Attend local and state homeschooling conventions, seminars, and workshops to interact with experienced educators in the field of home education.
- Join online forums for homeschoolers so you can ask questions about current laws and keep up on the news related to homeschooling.
- Follow social media accounts related to homeschooling so you can get timely updates on state and local laws changes.
- Finally, contact your state’s Board of Education if you have any specific questions or concerns regarding the current regulations or changes coming down the pipeline soon. Staying informed is key in homeschooling, so make sure you have all the most up-to-date information and resources available.
By following these tips, you can always be informed about the latest homeschooling regulations in your area. Doing this research and staying up-to-date on homeschooling laws will help protect your family and ensure you comply with all local and state regulations.
Whether you are a new homeschooling family just starting or have been homeschooling for years, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the laws in your state and locality. Laws can change anytime, so you must know what is expected of you as a homeschooler.
If you are unsure about homeschooling, don’t hesitate to contact an organization like High School of America for help. We support families throughout the United States who choose to educate their children at home.
Contact us today to learn more!