Alaska law offers four homeschool options:
- Homeschool statute: Alaska has an extremely lax homeschool statute. There are no requirements—no notification, parent qualification, instruction time, subject, bookkeeping, or assessment requirements.
- Correspondence program: These programs, run by public or charter schools, require annual education plans, monthly teacher contact, quarterly progress reviews, and testing after grades 3 through 10. They offer education funding and official diplomas.
- Private tutor: Parents must have a teaching certificate and instruction “comparable to that offered by the public schools in the area.” There are no notification, hours of instruction, bookkeeping, or assessment requirements.
- Private school: Operating a homeschool as a private school requires annual notice, 180 days of instruction “comparable to that offered by the public schools,” attendance, immunization, and academic records, and testing after grades 4, 6, and 8 (scores not submitted).
The first two options, the homeschool statute and the correspondence program, are used by the majority of homeschoolers in Alaska. The remaining two options, the private tutor statute and operating as a private school, are not used by many homeschoolers in Alaska today. They were used by many early Alaska homeschoolers, though, and are still on the books.
(1) Homeschool Statute
The state’s compulsory education law does not apply if a child “is being educated in the child’s home by a parent or legal guardian.” See Alaska Stat. § 14.30.010(b)(12).
|Days or hours:||None.|
|Intervention:||None. Further, failure to educate is not included in the state’s definition of neglect, meaning that homeschool parents who fail to educate their children cannot be prosecuted for child neglect.|
(2) Correspondence Program
The state’s compulsory education law does not apply if a child is participating in “a full-time program of correspondence study approved by the department.” See Alaska Stat. § 14.30.010(b)(10)(B). There was a time when homeschool parents had to choose between this option or the private school option, but with the creation of option 1 in 1997 this changed. After this change, a wealth of new correspondence programs sprung up targeted toward the needs of homeschool families, and the majority of homeschool families today take advantage of this option. See Alaska Stat. § 14.30.010(b)(10)(B).
|Notification:||Parents must enroll the child in a full-time correspondence program operated at either the district or state level.|
|Qualifications:||None. However, most correspondence programs are required to assign each child a certified teacher to provide advice and assistance.|
|Days or hours:||None.|
|Subjects:||At least 50% of students’ work with the correspondence program must be in core classes, which include math, language arts, social studies, science, world languages, and technology.|
|Bookkeeping:||Each year, parents must develop an Independent Learning Plan in conjunction with the correspondence program. Parents must turn in quarterly reviews of their children’s progress.|
|Assessment:||Students must take standardized tests after 3rd through 10th grade. Students in grades 10 through 12 must pass each section of the High School Graduation Qualifying Exam in order to be awarded an official diploma.|
|Intervention:||If a correspondence program itself is failing (as judged by its students’ grades) the state will intervene as it does for any other failing public school. If a given child or family fails to provide required materials or to make adequate educational progress, the correspondence program may suspend or end that child or family’s enrollment.|
|Other:||(1) Correspondence programs are required to have at least monthly contact with each student; (2) Correspondence programs generally give parents a stipend per child to be used only for approved classes and educational supplies.|
(3) Private Tutor
The state’s compulsory education law does not apply if a child being tutored by a certified teacher. See Alaska Stat. § 14.30.010(b)(1)(B).
|Days or hours:||None.|
|Subjects:||The child’s education must be “comparable to that offered by the public schools in the area.”|
(4) Private School
The state allows individual homeschools to function as exempt “religious or other private schools.” The state’s statute reads that compulsory education law does not apply if a child is in “attendance at an educational program operated . . . by a religious or other private school.” See Alaska Stat. § 14.30.010(b)(1)(C). There was a time when homeschool parents had to choose between this option or the correspondence school option, but with the creation of option 1 in 1997 it is unlikely that many homeschool parents continue to use this option today. For state law governing these schools, see Alaska Stat. § 14.45.100 through § 14.45.130.
|Notification:||Parents must file an annual “Private School Enrollment Reporting Form” with the local school superintendent by the first day of public school and file the “Private and Denominational Schools Enrollment Report” and “School Calendar” forms with the Department of Education by October 15th of each year.|
|Days or hours:||Parents must provide 180 days of instruction.|
|Subjects:||Parents must provide “an academic education comparable to that offered by the public schools.”|
|Bookkeeping:||Parents must maintain monthly attendance records. Parents must maintain “permanent student records reflecting immunizations, physical examinations, standardized testing, academic achievement, and courses taken at the school.”|
|Assessment:||Parents must administer a “nationally standardized test” of their choice in grades four, six, and eight. The results need not be reported.|
Services Available to Homeschooled Students
|Part-time enrollment:||State law requires public schools to allow both students homeschooled under the homeschool law and students homeschooled through correspondence programs to enroll part-time, provided space allows. Public schools receive funding for part-time students. See 4 AAC 05.035.|
|Extracurriculars:||Correspondence program homeschoolers have full access to sports and other extracurricular activities in their local districts, and in adjacent districts with approval. However, option 1 homeschools must be “accredited,” which bars them from participation. See Q’s & A’s for Parents and School Administrators on ASAA Bylaws When Implementing AS 14.30.365.|
|Special needs:||Public schools are required to provide testing for special needs to all children residing in their districts, but there are no additional provisions for special needs children being homeschooled under option 1. Children being homeschooled through correspondence programs have the same rights as any other student and must be offered accommodations and services. Some portion of federal funding is set aside for private school students and thus may be available for students in homeschools operated as private schools. See 4 AAC 33.432.|
Early Alaskan homeschoolers enrolled their children in correspondence schools or operated their homeschools as private schools. In 1997, Alaska passed one of the most most minimal homeschool statutes in the country, removing any previous ambiguity. Nevertheless, Alaska’s correspondence schools tend to be popular among the state’s homeschoolers, likely because they offer access to public funds and various services.
For more, see A History of Homeschooling in Alaska.
This overview is for informational purposes only and does not constitute the giving of legal advice. Page last updated September 2015.