If you weren’t already aware, each of America’s 50 states has its own laws and choices regarding homeschooling. While many states’ requirements and options are similar to one another, just about every state has its own opinions, quirks, and nuances within their homeschooling regulations. In this blog series, we’ll give you a quick overview of each state’s homeschooling options and some of their requirements in order to help you set up your homeschool program. But it’s important that you thoroughly read through your state’s homeschool laws before you decide to teach your child at home, because there is quite a bit of information to digest.
The Volunteer State offers three homeschooling options:
- Independent homeschool. In order to use this option, the instructor must have a high school diploma or GED and file a Notice of Intent with the local superintendent as well as proof of immunization (or a religious/medical waiver). You must be a legal guardian or parent of the child you are enrolling. You may also employ a tutor who has the same qualifications to do some or all of the teaching. School must be taught for a minimum of four hours per day for 180 days, and attendance records need to be maintained and submitted to the school district at the end of the year. Finally, your child is required to be tested in grades 5, 7, and 9 via standardized test.
- Church-related school. A church-related school (CRS) is a school operated by a denominational, parochial, or other bona fide church organization and accredited by one of many organizations, which can be found here. To use this option, you must:
- Enroll in a CRS, to be supervised by the director of the CRS.
- Submit proof of immunization to the CRS (or a religious/medical exemption).
- Comply with all CRS policies.
- Category III distance-learning school. These are non-public schools accredited by any of the organizations found here, according to the procedures and criteria established by the association.
The Lone Star State only offers one option for homeschoolers. To homeschool, you must teach the required subjects, which include math, reading, spelling, grammar, and good citizenship. While science and history are not required, it’s recommended you teach these courses if your child plans to apply to college. The only other requirement is that you use a written curriculum (online programs are considered written curriculum).
Like Texas, Utah only offers a single homeschooling option. To homeschool under the state’s statute, you must file a notarized and signed affidavit with your local school board. Otherwise, Utah has no requirements around how many days you instruct or which subjects you teach. You as the homeschooling parent are solely responsible for the selection of instructional materials and textbooks.
Vermont is another state that provides one option for homeschooling your kids. Under the state’s statute, you must send a written enrollment notice with requested information. Next, submit a narrative, which is essentially a detailed outline of the material you plan to cover (if you’ve completed two consecutive homeschool years that are deemed successful by the state of Vermont, you don’t need to submit another narrative). Once you’ve taken these first couple steps, the next thing to do is wait until you receive an acknowledgement of compliance from the state. Once you’ve obtained that, you’re ready to start to teaching the required subjects:
- Basic communication, including reading, writing, and use of numbers.
- Vermont and U.S. government, history, and citizenship.
- Physical education and health, including effects of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs on the body and society.
- English, as well as American and other literature.
- Natural sciences.
- Fine arts.
Finally, an annual assessment must be submitted, which can come in the form of a written report from a Vermont-certified teacher; a written report from parents/instructor along with a portfolio of the student’s work that demonstrates progress; or results of an approved standardized achievement test administered in a way approved by the testing company.
Virginia, on the other hand, provides parents with four homeschooling options:
- Home instruction option. To use this option, the parent/instructor must have a high school (or higher) degree, a Virginia teacher’s license, or provide evidence that you’re able to give your child an adequate education. Next, you must file a notice (along with a curriculum description) of home instruction with your local school superintendent; you don’t need to wait for superintendent approval, however, to start school. Finally, submit one of four choices for annual evaluation:
- Results of a nationally normed standardized achievement test.
- An evaluation letter from a teacher licensed in any state, or someone with a master’s degree or higher, who’s familiar with your child’s education.
- A report card or transcript from a community college, college/university, college distance learning program, or home education correspondence school.
- Another type of evaluation for the superintendent to review in order to determine whether proper progress is being made.
- Religious exemption. By state law, your child may be excused from attending school “by reason of bona fide religious training or belief is conscientiously opposed to attendance at school.” To use this exemption for homeschooling, you must send a religious exemption letter to your local school board explaining the religious reason for the exemption request. While you can technically commence teaching once the exemption letter is sent, you will need to obtain a reply of approval to “officially” homeschool your child. In some cases, you may be required to apply the following year.
- Certified tutor. Anyone with a valid Virginia teacher’s certificate can teach at home. That means you can teach your own children as well as other students.
- Private school option. This is a very intriguing option: Virginia law allows private school students to attend their school without physically being present at the school if the student’s attendance is for the same number of hours per day, for the same days per year, and during the same period of the year as public schools. If a private school student receives instruction while at home, it’s a very close alternative to true homeschooling.
The state of Washington offers two homeschooling options that very closely resemble many other states’:
- Homeschooling under the homeschool statute. First, you must meet the state’s teacher qualifications, which can be found here. Similar to other states, you must file an annual Notice of Intent with the local school superintendent and then teach for 180 days or 1,000 hours during the school year. And during that time, the following subjects must be taught:
- Occupational education
- Social Studies
- Art and music appreciation
- The last step is to conduct and retain (though not submit) an annual evaluation using either a state board-approved standardized test administered by a “qualified” individual; or have your child evaluated by a “certificated” person.
- Private or denominational school. You can enroll your child in an extension program of an approved private school, and simply comply with that particular school’s requirements for its extension programs.
The nation’s capital allows you to homeschool provided you follow its list of requirements. First, you need to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent in order to teach your child. Then you’ll have to fill out an official form notifying the District of Columbia of your intent to homeschool. As for teaching, there are no actual required hours or days you must teach; you just need to be sure you’re conducting school during the same general school year as other schools. The subjects taught must include:
- Language Arts
- Social Studies
- Physical education
As with most other states, Washington, D.C. requires that you maintain a portfolio of your child’s work and materials for one year, should it need to be reviewed by an official. Testing is not mandatory, but school officials can legally ask to see your portfolio up to two times each school year…so, make sure you’re prepared to show your child’s progress. And public school testing is available at no charge should you want to see progress and results with an official evaluation.
To homeschool in the state of West Virginia, the instructor must:
- have a high school diploma or equivalent.
- file a Notice of Intent with the local school board or superintendent.
- teach reading, language, math, science, and social studies.
- assess the student annually with either a:
- nationally normed, standardized achievement test,
- public school testing,
- a written narrative stating that a certified teacher has reviewed your student’s portfolio of work and determined that he or she is progressing on schedule,
- an alternative academic proficiency assessment that’s been approved by the superintendent.
Note: While you are required to assess your student annually, you only need to submit the assessments to the county superintendent for 3rd, 5th, 8th, and 11th grade.
Alternatively, rather than file a Notice of Intent, you may seek your school board’s approval. Once approved, you’re required to teach the subjects mentioned above for 180 days and be prepared to submit information should the school board request it.
The state of Wisconsin doesn’t recognize homeschooling by that name. Rather, the state allows what’s called “home-based private educational programs.” Which is a much longer way of saying…yes, homeschooling. In order to do so in Wisconsin, you must file an annual Statement of Enrollment in which you certify quite a few things, as listed here. Your homeschool should be privately controlled and not run by a public school or government agency. Throughout the school year, you’re required to instruct your child for at least 875 hours in the following subjects:
- Language Arts
- Social Studies
And those subjects should be taught in a way that’s “sequentially progressive” (moving from simple to complex concepts).
And last but not least, the state of Wyoming provides two options for homeschooling:
- Homeschooling under Wyoming’s homeschool statute. All you need to do to satisfy state requirements is submit a “sequentially progressive” curriculum to your local public school district annually, and make sure it includes the following subjects:
- Social Studies
- Homeschooling as a parochial, church, or religious school. This option allows you to enroll your child in a church school that permits you to teach at home. To qualify, your homeschool must be under the auspices or control of a local church, denomination, or similar religious organization.
That’s all 50 states! Keep in mind that this blog series was meant to provide you with a quick overview of your state’s homeschooling requirements, so it’s not a comprehensive rulebook. Hopefully this summary helps give you a better idea of what your state needs in order for you to homeschool, so you can make the right decision for your family. Please visit each state’s Board of Education website to get all the details you need. The National Association of State Boards of Education is a great place to start, with a list of all 50 states’ BOE website, email, and phone contact information. From there, you’re on your way!
Should you decide that homeschooling is the right option for your family, Bridgeway Academy is here to help! We offer fully accredited, customized learning packages to meet your child’s unique needs, plus academic support and so much more! Check out the rest of our website or give us a call at 800.863.1474 for more information.