Whether you are thinking about homeschooling or currently homeschooling, it's important to know your state's homeschooling laws. Laws do vary by state and can require anything from a simple notice of intent to testing or more. The following information provides an overview of the various homeschooling requirements by state. These are brief summaries of requirements only, and do not constitute legal advice. You can get more information regarding your specific state's requirements by visiting HSLDA, or by finding a local support group.
States that Don't Require Paperwork
The states in this list require no notice for you to begin homeschooling your child. Generally, you are not required to test your child, provide lesson plans or turn in attendance records. It's important to note that some of these states request some items from homeschoolers, but compliance is typically voluntary. Special circumstances and issues are noted.
- Connecticut - The state has in place suggested procedures for notifying the local school that you are homeschooling, as well as a voluntary portfolio review.
- Idaho - Idaho is unique in that its law specifically allows for another relative to teach your child.
- Illinois - No notice is required by law; however, a local school board may ask for "registration." Compliance with the request is voluntary. Also, in Illinois, the state tax law allows a deduction for educational expenses for homeschoolers under certain circumstances.
- Indiana - Children must be home educated for the equivalent of 180 days and parents must keep attendance records to verify instruction took place.
- Missouri - Although parents are not required to regularly submit records, parents must maintain a planbook or diary, a portfolio sample of the child's work, and report cards or other evaluations of the child's progress. Parents are required to school their children for 1,000 hours per school year. 600 of these hours must be in core subjects like math, reading, language arts, social studies and science. 400 of the hours must occur at home. Parents are required to do this until the child turns 16.
- New Jersey
States with Minimal Regulations
The following states require some type of notification that you plan to homeschool but generally do not require testing, lesson plans, or other records.
- Alabama - Parents may hire a private tutor or enroll their children in a "church school" (even though the children enrolled in said church school would be taught at home). As part of a church school, parents must submit attendance and an enrollment form.
- Arizona - Parents must file an affidavit of intent within 30 days of starting a homeschooling program. This only needs to be filed once for the duration of the homeschool. So as long as the student remains homeschooled, and doesn't go to school, the affidavit does not need to be refiled.
- California - Parents must file a "private school affidavit" annually in order to homeschool. Parents may also enroll in an umbrella school, hire a private tutor (or qualify as one if the parent-teacher is a certified teacher), or use public school curriculum as an independent study program at home.
- Kansas - Parents must register as a non-accredited private school with the State Board of Education. This is done once and is considered a private school, not a homeschool.
- Kentucky - Parents send a letter to the Board of Education within the first two weeks of school notifying the board of children that are "attending" the homeschool.
- Mississippi - Parents must file a "certificate of enrollment" with the local board of education. This document must be filed annually.
- Montana - In addition to notifying the county superintendent of your intent to homeschool, you must also keep immunization and attendance records and make them available upon request.
- Nebraska - Parents must file two notarized forms certifying that the home instruction program is similar to a public school program in addition to an information summary providing basic information about the homeschool.
- Nevada - The board of education provides a form that parents must file annually.
- New Mexico - New Mexico requires annual notification. In addition, parents must have at least a high school diploma (or its equivalent).
- Utah - Parents file an annual affidavit for their intent to homeschool.
- Wisconsin - Parents must file a form with the Department of Public Instruction, have a written plan for instruction, and spend 875 hours on learning activities per year.
- Wyoming - Parents must annually submit a curriculum plan to the board of education to show that it meets basic educational requirements.
States with Moderate Regulations
These states require quite a bit of documentation to homeschool. However, the oversight provided may still be minimal as opposed to the strictest states where there is ample paperwork to fill out and a moderate to high degree of oversight from the school board.
- Arkansas requires a notarized notice of intent, a signed and notarized waiver, and standardized testing.
- Colorado requires a notice of intent to be filed annually. In addition, parents must keep, and make available upon request, immunization records, attendance records, and standardized testing results. Children must be tested in grades 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11.
- Florida parents must file a notice of intent and keep a portfolio of student work for at least two years. The portfolio should include samples of the student's work in each subject taught, as well as a list of books the student read. The portfolio should be made available upon request.
- Georgia - Georgia homeschoolers have to fill out a letter of intent provided by the DOE, as well as an annual attendance report.
- Hawaii - Hawaii homeschoolers are required to submit a notice of intent, an annual progress report and standardized testing results in some grades.
- Iowa - In Iowa, homeschoolers need to file a Competent Private Instruction form with the board of education as well as provide a means of evaluation. Evaluation can come through either a certified teacher or parents can submit annual assessment results. It should be noted that in some cases, Iowa schools may offer a homeschool assistance program or a dual enrollment option for homeschooled students.
- Louisiana - Homeschoolers in Louisiana may homeschool either by notifying the state that they are starting a private school, or by registering as a home study program annually.
- Maine - In order to homeschool in Maine, parents must submit a notice of intent to homeschool and an annual assessment (usually standardized test scores). Maine homeschoolers may also homeschool as a private school if their homeschool includes at least two unrelated students.
- Maryland - Parents in Maryland must submit a letter of intent statement annually in addition to keeping a portfolio of some of the student's work. That portfolio may be reviewed by local school personnel up to three times per year, to ensure the student is being taught regularly. In addition, Maryland law states follow-up actions to be taken if the laws are not complied with.
- Minnesota - In Minnesota parents have to file a letter of intent when they start homeschooling, and a letter of continuation every year thereafter. In addition, Minnesota homeschoolers should note that immunizations are required for all school-aged children unless you have a "conscientiously held belief" - in which case you'll need to submit a notarized statement of such belief.
- New Hampshire - New Hampshire homeschoolers must submit an annual letter of intent, keep a portfolio of samples of the student's work and have an annual evaluation. The annual evaluation may either be an evaluation by a certified teacher or standardized tests.
- North Carolina - Homeschoolers in North Carolina must submit a letter of intent, keep kids up to date on their immunizations as well as maintain attendance records, and certify that the person providing the instruction has at least a high school diploma. Homeschoolers are also required to standardized tests, and provide proof of such upon request.
- Ohio - Ohio homeschoolers have to submit notification of their homeschooling plan, including a list of intended curriculum and assurances that all the rules are being complied with. In addition, after the first year, parents must submit annual assessments for the previous year with that year's notification of intent to homeschool.
- Oregon - Oregon's homeschooling laws require parents to submit a one-time notice of intent, and provide assessments for some academic school years. In addition, the law provides for homeschooled children to participate in interscholastic activities.
- South Carolina - Parents who wish to homeschool in South Carolina need to submit an annual notice of intent, maintain a journal or lesson plan book that chronicles the student's academic activities and submit a semi-annual progress report that includes attendance records.
- South Dakota - South Dakota homeschoolers must file a form requesting exemption from school attendance, and must test in some grades. The law allows for homeschoolers to borrow textbooks, as well as take the SAT through the school at no charge.
- Tennessee - Parents in Tennessee have two options to legally homeschool. They may either notify the board of education that they are going to provide for their child's education at home, or they may homeschool under a "church-related" school. Notification, testing, and other assessment requirements vary based on the option a parent chooses.
- Virginia - Virginia homeschoolers have to file a notice of intent and provide proof that satisfactory progress is being made.
- Washington - In addition to filing an annual notice of intent, keeping attendance and school records, and submitting to annual testing, parents in Washington state must either have 45 credits of college level credit, work with a certified teacher, or be deemed "sufficiently qualified" by school board personnel in order to be able to homeschool.
- Washington, D.C. - Parents need to file an annual notice of intent with the home school coordinator through the board of education and maintain a portfolio of the child's work. In addition, parents are required to have at least a high school diploma or the equivalent in order to be allowed to homeschool. Parents who do not meet those requirements can request a waiver.
- West Virginia - In West Virginia, homeschooling parents must submit a notice of intent, proof of a high school diploma or equivalent, an outline of the plan of instruction and an annual assessment report.
States with the Toughest Requirements
States with the toughest requirements generally require a substantial amount of paperwork. They may also require that the homeschool program be approved, submission of standardized testing results, and organized plan of instruction and other materials.
The following are a sample of current requirements for homeschooling in the state of New York:
- You must submit your intent to homeschool to the district superintendent by July 1 each year. If you are in the middle of the school year when you move to the state, you have to submit your intent within 14 days of your start date.
- You must provide an Individualized Home Instruction Plan by August 15.
- You must maintain attendance records.
- Quarterly reports must be filed.
- An assessment is required annually.
- Achievement tests can only be administered by a qualified person.
In Vermont, regulations require that a parent send a written enrollment notice to the commissioner for each child you homeschool. This notice contains:
- Child's name and age
- Town of legal residence, phone numbers and names of parents and/or guardians
- Assessment of progress from the previous school year (for each child)
- Signatures of legal guardians
Along with this notice, a detailed outline of the course of study must also be submitted for each subject as well as annual assessments, as required.
While standardized testing is not required, the Commissioner of Education allows the local school districts to have the authority to ask for an evaluation to measure the child's progress. Along with this, the Rhode Island compulsory attendance law requires a school committee from the town where you live to approve your home-instruction plan. A parent must file a notice of intent as well as a year end letter and comply with local regulations.
Parents in Pennsylvania must either work with a certified teacher as a tutor or submit paperwork to qualify to run a homeschool. To start, Pennsylvania law requires that parents must submit an affidavit to their local school district before August 15, annually. The affidavit must include:
- Basic information like who will be teaching the child, the child's name, address and phone number
- A statement that says the required subjects will be taught, along with an outline of the parent's educational objectives for the year
- Evidence the child has required immunizations
In addition, parents must keep records of the child's work in a portfolio and submit the records for inspection at the end of the year in an annual assessment. This inspection must be completed by a certified teacher, psychologist or qualified private school teacher. The portfolio must include:
- Samples of the child's work
- Standardized test scores if the child is in grade 3, 5, or 8
- Log of materials used
If the school district does not feel the child is being educated properly, it may ask for additional documentation or not allow the homeschool to continue. Parents have the right to appeal the decision.
In Massachusetts, the law allows for homeschoolers to work with their local school districts in order to homeschool. It is the local school district that must approve your home education plan before you begin, and review it annually. However, what a local school district requires varies between districts. Generally, parents in Massachusetts will at least need to prepare a letter of intent and instructional plan. To find out more about what they are required to do, parents must contact their local school district.
North Dakota law requires a hefty amount of paperwork from homeschooling parents. Parents must:
- Submit a letter of intent that includes basic information as well as a list of public school courses and enrichment activities that the student will engage in over the course of the coming year.
- Submit the child's immunization records
- Have at least a high school diploma, GED or be supervised by a qualified teacher
Parents must also keep a record of all the courses their student takes as well as grades for each of those courses. Students must take standardized tests and the progress of the homeschool is to be monitored by the local superintendent. The superintendent can disallow the homeschool to continue if satisfactory progress is not being made.
While you may be in compliance with homeschool laws this year, it is important to stay informed. Laws can change and along with them the requirements and responsibilities placed on the homeschool parent and/or student may change. If you're not careful, you could be found non-compliant.
As a homeschooler, it is your responsibility to stay informed. The best way to stay abreast of your requirements is thorough local homeschooling support groups.