Pennsylvania

  • Homeschool statute: Parents must submit annual notice to the local superintendent, have a high school diploma or its equivalent, provide 180 days of instruction in a wide range of subjects that vary by grade, maintain a portfolio of academic records and test results, have their children tested in grades 3, 5, and 8, and have their children assessed annually by portfolio review. The evaluator’s certification that an appropriate education is taking place must be submitted to the local superintendent, who may ask for another evaluation at any time if there is reason to believe the children are not making appropriate academic progress. Homeschooling is not permitted if a parent, guardian, or adult in the household has been convicted of certain criminal offenses, and parents wishing to homeschool a special needs student must have written approval from a provider.
  • Private tutor: Parents may homeschool under the private tutor law if the parent providing instruction has a teaching certificate. The parent must file once with the local superintendent and provide 180 days of instruction. There are no subject, bookkeeping, or assessment requirements.

(1) Homeschool Statute

“‘Home education program’ shall mean a program conducted, in compliance with this section, by the parent or guardian or such person having legal custody of the child or children.” See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(a).

Notification: The parent/supervisor (the parent or in charge of the instruction) must submit yearly affidavits to the local superintendent by no later than August 1st of each school year. The first year of homeschooling, the affidavit need only be submitted prior to beginning to homeschool. The affidavit must contain the name of the parent/supervisor; the name and age of each child; the address and telephone number, assurance that subjects will be taught in English; an “outline of proposed objectives by subject area”; immunization records; medical records; assurance that the home education program will comply with the law; and a certification signed by the parent/supervisor that “all adults living in the home and persons having legal custody of a child or children in a home education program have not been convicted of the criminal offenses enumerated in subsection (e) of section 111 within five years immediately preceding the date of the affidavit.” See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(b).
Qualifications: The parent/supervisor must have a high school diploma or the equivalent. See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(a). The supervisor and other adults living in the home or having custody over the child must not have been convicted of “the criminal offenses enumerated in subsection (e) of section 111” in the past five years. See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(b).
Days or hours: At the elementary level, 180 days or 900 hours; at the secondary level, 180 days or 990 hours. See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(c). Instruction must be in English.
Subjects: What subjects must be covered depend on the student’s grade level. At the elementary level: English, to include spelling, reading, and writing; arithmetic, science, geography, history of the United States and Pennsylvania; civics; safety education, including regular and continues instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires; health and physiology; physical education; music; and art. At the secondary level: English, to include language, literature, speech, and composition; science; geography; social studies, to include civics, world history, history of the United States and Pennsylvania; mathematics, to include general mathematics, algebra, and geometry; art; music; physical education; health; and safety education, including regular and continuous instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires. At the discretion of the parent/supervisor, subjects at the secondary level may include economics; biology; chemistry; foreign languages; trigonometry; or other age-appropriate courses. See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(c). In order to graduate from a home education program, the following courses are the minimum requirements: Four years of English; Three years of mathematics; Three years of science; Three years of social studies; Two years of arts and humanities. See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(d).
Bookkeeping: Parents must maintain a portfolio of records and materials, consisting of (1) a “log, made contemporaneously with the instruction, which designates by title the reading materials used, samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks or creative materials used or developed by the student” and (2) the results of nationally normed standardized achievement tests (chosen from a list maintained by the Pennsylvania Department of Education) in mathematics and reading/language arts (or the results of Statewide tests) administered in grades three, five, and eight by a party other than a parent or guardian. See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(e)(1). Parents must also maintain “an annual written evaluation of the student’s educational progress” as prescribed below. See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(e)(2)
Assessment: (1) In grades 3, 5, and 8, students must take a nationally normed standardized achievement test (chosen from a list maintained by the Pennsylvania Department of Education) in mathematics and reading/language arts (or the results of Statewide tests) administered by a party other than a parent or guardian. The results must be kept with the student’s portfolio. See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(e)(1). (2) A “written evaluation of the student’s educational progress” must be created each year “based on an interview of the child and a review of the portfolio” and must “certify whether or not an appropriate education is occurring.” The evaluation must be conducted by (a) a licensed clinical or school psychologist or (b) a state certified teacher (c) a nonpublic school teacher or administrator with “at least two years of teaching experience in a Pennsylvania public or nonpublic school within the last ten years” or (d) a person with other qualifications at the request of the parent/supervisor and with prior consent by the superintendent. See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(e)(2). A teacher or administrator evaluating a portfolio at the elementary level must have at least two years of experience evaluating any of the core subjects required at that level; a teacher or administrator evaluating a portfolio at the secondary level must have at least two years of experience evaluating any of the subjects required or recommended at that level. See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(e)(1)(i-ii). (3) By June 30th at the end of each school year, the evaluator’s certification that an appropriate education is occurring (but not the portfolio) must be provided to the local school district.
Intervention: If the evaluator’s certification is not submitted by June 30th as required, the superintendent may send a letter to the supervisor (i.e. the parent) requesting that the certification be provided within 10 days. If at any time the superintendent has a reasonable belief that the appropriate education is not taking place, or that the homeschool is otherwise out of compliance, the superintendent may send a letter to the supervisor requesting that another portfolio evaluation be conducted, and that the evaluator’s certification be submitted within 30 days. See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(h, i, j). If the required certification is not provided, a hearing shall take place before an impartial hearing examiner, which may result in the child being required to attend school. See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(k, l, m)
Other: (1) Parents wishing to homeschool students with special needs, including gifted and talented students, must include written approval of their homeschool program by either a state-certified special education teacher or a licensed clinical or certified school psychologist in their yearly affidavit. (2) The supervisor and other adults living in the home or having custody over the child must not have been convicted of “the criminal offenses enumerated in subsection (e) of section 111” in the past five years. See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(b)(1). These offenses include homicide, aggravated assault, stalking, kidnapping, unlawful restraint, rape, statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, indecent exposure, incest, concealing the death of a child, endangering the welfare of children, dealing in infant children, prostitution, obscene and other sexual materials and performances, the corruption of minors, sexual abuse of children, and drug use. See 24 P.S. § 1-111(e). (3) Pennsylvania law prohibits home education programs from being considered a nonpublic school. See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(b).

(2) Private Tutor

“Regular daily instruction in the English language, for the time herein required, by a properly qualified private tutor, shall be considered as complying with the provisions of this section.” See 24 P.S. § 13-1327(a).

Notification: “The private tutor must file a copy of his Pennsylvania certification and the required criminal history record with the student’s district of residence superintendent.” The private tutor is not required to provide a list of students under their instruction.
Qualifications: The private tutor must be “a person who is certified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to teach in the public schools of Pennsylvania; who is teaching one or more children who are members of a single family; who provides the majority of the instruction to such child or children; and who is receiving a fee or other consideration for such instructional services.” “No person who would be disqualified from school employment by the provisions of subsection (e) of section 111 may be a private tutor, as provided for in this section.”
Days or hours: At the elementary level, 180 days or 900 hours; at the secondary level, 180 days or 990 hours. Instruction must be in English.
Subjects: None.
Bookkeeping: None.
Assessment: None.
Intervention: None.
Other: n/a

Services Available to Homeschooled Students

Part-time enrollment: Yes, at the district’s discretion. Whether homeschooled students may participate in curricular courses at a public school is up to the discretion of the individual school district.
Extracurriculars: Yes. School districts are required by law to allow resident children enrolled in home education programs to participate in “any activity that is subject to the provisions of section 511” including clubs, athletics, and theatrical productions, provided the child meets the regular eligibility criteria or their equivalent; meets the tryout criteria or their equivalent; and complies with all policies, rules, and regulations or their equivalent. See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(f.1)
Special needs: Yes. 
Other: “The school district of residence shall, at the request of the supervisor, lend to the home education program copies of the school district’s planned courses, textbooks and other curriculum materials appropriate to the student’s age and grade level.” See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(f)

Background:

The state’s homeschool law, SB 154, was passed in December 1988.

Resources:

General Laws and Regulations

Overview of Homeschooling, Pennsylvania Department of Education

Homeschooling in Pennsylvania: A Fact Sheet

Home Schooling Guidelines and Procedures for Parents/Guardians and Staff

State Regulations of Private Schools, U.S. Department of Education

Homeschooling in Pennsylvania: A Fact Sheet, Education Law Center

Pennsylvania, International Center for Home Education Research

This overview is for informational purposes only and does not constitute the giving of legal advice.

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