Tennessee

  • Homeschool statute: There are four legal options, two of which are nearly identical. First, parents may homeschool under Tennessee’s homeschool statute. Parents must provide annual notice to the director of schools, have a high school diploma or GED if homeschooling a child in grades 9 through 12, provide 180 days of instruction, maintain attendance and vaccination records, and have their children tested after grades 5, 7, and 9. While there are no subject requirements, students’ test results must be turned in to the director of schools, and there is an intervention process for students who fall too far behind in reading, language arts, mathematics, or science.
  • Umbrella school: Parents may homeschool in association with or as satellite campuses of church-related schools. Parents choosing these options must provide 180 days of instruction, and the church-related school must provide notice to the local director of schools. There are no state teacher qualification, subject, bookkeeping, or assessment requirements.
  • Distance learning program: Parents may enroll a child in a distance learning program run by an accredited private school. These students are officially private school students, and all requirements are at the discretion of the school.

(1) General Homeschool Option

“A home school is a school conducted or directed by a parent or parents or legal guardian or guardians for their own children.” See Tennessee Code Annotated § 49-6-3050.

Notification: Parents must file an annual notice of intent with the director of schools, including basic data such as the names, ages, and grade levels of the children being homeschooled; the address of the school; the curriculum to be offered; the proposed hours of instruction; and the qualifications of the parent-teacher. This notice is for reporting purposes only.
Qualifications: High school diploma or GED for grades 9-12 only.
Days or hours: Four hours each day for 180 days each year.
Subjects: None.
Bookkeeping: Parents must maintain attendance records, which are to be made available for inspect and must be submitted to the director of schools at the end of each school year. Parents must maintain immunization records. Proof of vaccination must be turned in to the local director of schools.
Assessment: At the end of grades 5, 7, and 9, students must take a standardized test administered by the commissioner of education, the commissioner’s designee, or an approved testing service. Tests administered by the commissioner or designee will be at no charge to the parent. The results of these tests must be reported to the parent, the director of schools, and the state board of education.
Intervention: If the student falls 6 to 9 months behind grade level in reading, language arts, mathematics, or science, the director of schools will require the parent to design a remedial course in consultation with a licensed teacher. If a student falls more than one year behind appropriate grade level, the child must be tested again a year later. If the student is still more than one year behind appropriate grade level and a licensed teacher finds that the student does not have a learning disability, the director of schools may require the parent to enroll the child in a public, private, or church-related school.
Other: N/A

(2) In Association with a Church-Related School

The homeschool statute offers parents the option of associating with and enrolling their children in a Category IV church-related school. See Tennessee Code Annotated § 49-6-3050(2, 3). Church-related schools must be accredited by a Christian school accrediting agency but are otherwise largely exempt from additional oversight. For the law governing church-related schools, see Tennessee Annotated Code § 49-50-801 and State Board of Education Rule 0520-7-2-.05.

Notification: Parents must enroll their children in a church-related school. The church-related school is required to report the name, age, and address of each student to the director of schools of the public school system in which the school is located. See Tennessee Annotated Code § 49-6-3007(c) and State Board of Education Rule 0520-7-2-.05.
Qualifications: Parents must have a high school diploma or GED if homeschooling children in grades 9 through 12. However, this may be waived if the parent is considered a “teacher” by the church-based school. In this case, any requirements are as determined by the church-related school. See Tennessee Code Annotated § 49-6-3050(2)(B) and (3).
Days or hours: 180 days. See Tennessee Annotated Code § 49-50-801 .
Subjects: As determined by the church-related school. There are no state requirements.
Bookkeeping: Whether or not church-related schools are bound by Tennessee Annotated Code § 49-6-3007(c), which requires that daily attendance records be kept and made open for inspection, is ambiguous. However, because the law requires students enrolled in church-related schools to attend school for 180 days per year, church-related schools do tend to require parents to keep and submit attendance records. Additional bookkeeping requirements are as determined by the church-related school.
Assessment: As stated in the homeschool statute, a church-related school that enrolls a homeschool student must “administer or offer” standardized achievement tests. See Tennessee Code Annotated § 49-6-3050(2)(a).
Intervention: As determined by the church-related school. There are no state requirements.
Other: Church-related schools must ensure that their students are properly vaccinated. See Tennessee Code Annotated § 49-6-5001 and State Board of Education Rule 0520-7-2-.05.

(3) As a Satellite Campus of a Church-Related School

Parents may choose to operate as a satellite campus of a Category IV church-related school. This option is not technically homeschooling, and is governed by the church-related school statute rather than the homeschool statute. Church-related schools must be accredited by a Christian school accrediting agency but are otherwise largely exempt from additional oversight. See Tennessee Annotated Code § 49-50-801 and State Board of Education Rule 0520-7-2-.05.

Notification: Parents must enroll their children in a church-related school. Each church-related school must report the name, age, and address of each student to the director of schools of the public school system in which the school is located. See Tennessee Annotated Code § 49-6-3007(c) and State Board of Education Rule 0520-7-2-.05.
Qualifications: As determined by the church-related school. There are no state requirements.
Days or hours: 180 days. See Tennessee Annotated Code § 49-50-801 .
Subjects: As determined by the church-related school. There are no state requirements.
Bookkeeping: Whether or not church-related schools are bound by Tennessee Annotated Code § 49-6-3007(c), which requires that daily attendance records be kept and made open for inspection, is ambiguous. However, because the law requires students enrolled in church-related schools to attend school for 180 days per year, church-related schools do tend to require parents to keep and submit attendance records. Additional bookkeeping requirements are as determined by the church-related school.
Assessment: As determined by the church-related school. There are no state requirements.
Intervention: As determined by the church-related school. There are no state requirements.
Other: Church-related schools must ensure that their students are properly vaccinated. See Tennessee Code Annotated § 49-6-5001 and State Board of Education Rule 0520-7-2-.05.

(4) Distance Learning Program

Parents may enroll a child in the distance learning program of a Category III accredited private school. These students count as private school students and are not governed by the homeschool code. Some homeschool correspondence programs, including Conlara, Seton, Calvert, ABeka, and AlphaOmega, operate as Category III accredited private schools in Tennessee and offer distance learning programs for homeschool students. Category III accredited private schools are schools accredited by any of a number of regional accrediting agencies. See Tennessee Annotated Code § 49-6-3001(c)(3)(A)(iii) and State Board of Education Rule 0520-7-2-.05.

Notification: Parents must enroll their children in an accredited private school. All private schools in Tennessee are required to report the name, age, and address of each student to the director of schools of the public school system in which the school is located. See Tennessee Annotated Code § 49-6-3007(c).
Qualifications: As determined by the accredited private school. There are no state requirements.
Days or hours: As determined by the accredited private school. There are no state requirements.
Subjects: As determined by the accredited private school. There are no state requirements.
Bookkeeping: All private schools in Tennessee are required to maintain daily attendance records verified by each individual teacher and made open for inspection. See Tennessee Annotated Code § 49-6-3007(c). Additional bookkeeping requirements are as determined by the accredited private school.
Assessment: As determined by the accredited private school. There are no state requirements.
Intervention: As determined by the accredited private school. There are no state requirements.
Other: n/a

Services Available to Homeschooled Students

Part-time enrollment: Yes, at the district’s discretion. 
Extracurriculars: Yes. 
Special needs: Yes and No. All students are eligible for special needs testing in their local public schools. However, only students homeschooled through a church-related or other private school are eligible for the federal funding for special needs services set aside for private schools.
Other: n/a

Resources:

Tennessee Code Annotated § 49-6-3050

Tennessee Annotated Code § 49-50-801

State Board of Education Rule 0520-7-2-.05

Tennessee Code Annotated § 49-6-3004

Home Schooling in Tennessee, Department of Education

Tennessee, International Center for Home Education Research

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

Comments are closed