State Regulations Surrounding Homeschooling

Homeschooling is a legal educational alternative for families in the US and in other countries. However, there are guidelines for parents to consider when teaching their children at home. Read on to learn more about the state regulations that govern homeschooling.

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According to Michael Farris, chairman and general counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association, homeschooling has always been legal in every state. Currently about 2/3 of all states have specific laws authorizing and regulating homeschooling, but each state has different homeschooling regulations. This article will look at Texas, California, Florida, and New York as a survey of the different kinds of rules and laws a particular state may have. Each state represents one of the four degrees of state regulations:

No Notice

Texas is a no notice state. That means there is no state requirement for parents to contact the state regarding their child's homeschool progress. Each No notice state will have it's own specific regulations, but in Texas a homeschool family must establish and operate their homeschool as a private school. The only regulation of these homeschools is that parents must teach the following subjects: grammar, reading, spelling, good citizenship, and math.

Low Regulation

California is a low regulation state. That means parents are required only to notify the state regarding the homeschool education of their children. Each low regulation state will have its own specific regulations, but in California there are four legal homeschooling options:

  • Qualifying as private school
  • Using private tutor
  • Enrolling in private school satellite program
  • Enrolling in independent study program offered through public school

Teacher certification is only required if a parent chooses to teach as a private tutor. A specific number of attendance days or hours are not required by the state unless parents chose to use a private tutor. In this case the homeschooled child is required to log 175 school days per year with 3 hours of instruction per day. Official notice to the state is not required unless the parents declare their homeschooling program as a private school. In this case they must file annual affidavits with the Superintendent of Public Instruction. If they enroll in an independent study program through the public school system, that enrollment serves as official notice. No specific testing is required for homeschool students by the state of California.

Moderate Regulation

Florida is known as a moderate regulation state. That means parents are required to notify the state and to provide test scores and/or professional evaluation of student progress with homeschooling. Each moderate regulation state will have its own specific regulations, but in Florida homeschool families have two legal options:

  • Establish and operate a homeschool
  • Qualify and operate as part of private school corporation

A private school corporation is a legally incorporated group of homeschool families within the state. Parents who wish to establish a homeschool must file notice of intent with the local school superintendent; this is not required annually. There are no attendance requirements for homeschools but children enrolled in a private school corporation must log 180 school days each year. There are no teaching qualifications or subject requirements; however, homeschools must maintain a portfolio of records and teaching materials along with one of the following four annual options:

  • A certified teacher administers a standardized test
  • The student is evaluated by a certified teacher
  • The student is evaluated by a licensed psychologist
  • The student is evaluated by other means approved by the state

High Regulation

New York is a high regulation state. Parents are required to send state notification or achievement test scores along with professional evaluation and other requirements such as state approved curriculum, teacher qualification of parents. The state may also conduct home visits by to evaluate each homeschool situation. Each high regulation state will have its own specific regulations, but in New York there is one legal homeschooling option:

  • Establish and operate home school

In order to do so parents must file annual notice of intent with their local school superintendent and submit an Individualized Home Instruction Plan. (Forms are provided by the school district.) Students must log either 180 school days or 900 school hours per year for grades 1 through 6; 990 school hours for grades 7 through 12.

A New York homeschool must teach courses in substance abuse, patriotism and citizenship, traffic and fire safety, arithmetic, English, history, geography, science, health, visual arts, music, physical education, library skills, and other electives. Parents do not need teacher certification to homeschool but do need to maintain attendance records, file quarterly reports and annual assessment tests with the local superintendent. Homeschoolers must score above the 33rd percentile or the homeschool program may be placed on probation.

For more specific information on your state's homeschooling regulations, contact the local school board or state department of education. Many homeschool websites or resource groups will also have state regulation guides.

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