Oversight of homeschooling varies widely from state to state and frequently lacks basic protections. While we understand that every state is different and that homeschooling policy can and will differ from state to state, we believe that all homeschool policies should:
- Center on children’s interests
- Recognize homeschooling’s flexibility and potential for innovation
- Reflect what most responsible homeschooling parents already do
Variety in Homeschool OptionsIn the current landscape of homeschooling policy, some states treat homeschooling as a unique legal category while other states treat homeschools as private schools. Still other states allow homeschools to operate as extensions of private schools that operate as “umbrella” schools. Finally, some states allow students to be educated at home in extension programs operated by public or charter schools. Many states offer some combination of these options. We believe that all of these legal options for homeschooling are compatible with effective oversight of homeschooling and that each can coexist with effective protections for homeschooled students. Enacting legal oversight need not require changing a state’s legal categorization of homeschooling.
The Homeschool Option
- In states with homeschool statutes, authority over homeschooling may effectively rest at either the local or state level.
The Individual Private School Option
- Allowing homeschools to function as individual private schools may be an effective option when combined with an appropriate level of oversight.
The Private “Umbrella” School Option
- Homeschooling through a private “umbrella” school may be an effective option when combined with an appropriate level of oversight.
The Cyber Charter or Online Public School Option
- Cyber charters and online public schools may be an effective option when combined with appropriate accountability.
Public School Services
- Students should be allowed to participate in curricular and extracurricular activities, extension programs, and other opportunities provided by their local public schools.
- Public schools should have cooperative policies for awarding credit and assisting with the transition for homeschooled students who transfer in.
- Public school districts should receive funds for services provided to homeschooled students.
- Oversight of homeschooling should be funded by the state.
Protections for At-Risk Children
- Parents who have committed offenses that would disqualify them from teaching school should not be permitted to homeschool.
- At-risk children should be flagged for additional protections and support.
- Students should be assessed annually by mandatory reporters.
- Parents should be required to provide annual notification of homeschooling.
- The parent providing primary instruction should have at least a high school diploma or GED.
- Parents who have committed offenses that would disqualify them from teaching other people’s children should not be permitted to homeschool.
- Parents should be required to provide instruction in the same subjects as public schools.
- Parents should not be required to use the same textbooks or methods as public schools.
- Students should not be required to be at grade level in each subject; rather, student learning should show progress commensurate with their ability.
- Parents should be required to maintain academic records for each child they homeschool.
- Parents should be required to submit copies of each child’s birth certificate, immunization records, and annual assessment to be kept on file by either the local school district or state department of education or, when applicable, an umbrella school.
Assessment and Intervention
- Students’ academic progress should be evaluated and reported annually.
- Parents should be allowed to choose between a number of different assessment mechanisms, including standardized tests and portfolio reviews.
- Failure to make adequate academic progress should result in intervention.
- Portfolios reviews should be conducted by trained evaluators.
- Evaluators should meet with each student in person.
- Tests should be administered by qualified individuals.
- Students should meet minimum proficiency standards.
- Students who are not making adequate academic progress should have access to specialized attention.
- Should specialized attention fail to result in adequate academic progress, homeschooling should be discontinued.
- Umbrella schools should be required to assess students annually.
- Umbrella schools should be required to intervene in cases where adequate academic progress is not being made.
- Homeschooled students should meet the same medical requirements as public schooled students in their state.
- Parents should file immunization records.
- Public schools should make special needs testing and other special needs services available to homeschooled students.
- Each student with special needs should be required to have a privately-developed individualized education plan.
- Students with special needs should be assessed according to their abilities.