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“What are the homeschool laws in my state?”

This is one question that I am asked on a regular basis. Homeschoolers, especially families new to homeschooling (as well as people only considering homeschool), want to make sure they are doing things “by the book” so that they don’t get in legal trouble. The problem we are faced with, though, is there are no nationwide regulations concerning homeschooling as a whole. In fact, the homeschool laws vary a great deal from one state to the next. So how do you find out your state’s homeschool laws? Let’s chat about it.

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Although homeschooling is becoming more and more widely practiced (and accepted), there is still no nationwide legislation in place. This means that the laws that a friend in a neighboring state could be completely different from the laws for your state. It also means that if you ever move to a different state during your homeschool journey, you may have to change the way you do things.

The Regulations

There are three major homeschool regulations that people ask me about. To help you get the information you need, here is a summary of these three regulations, what they mean, and which states they apply to as of publishing this post. 

Notification of Intent to Homeschool

Most states require parents to provide some kind of official notification to local school districts letting them know that they will be homeschooling their children. For many of the states, you have to do this on an annual basis, while some only require you to provide a notification once. Only 10 states have no requirements about notification.

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States Requiring Annual Notification:

Arkansas
California
Colorado
Delaware
District of Columbia
Georgia
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Minnesota
Mississippi
Montana
Nebraska
New Mexico
New York
North Dakota
Ohio
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Utah
Vermont
Virginia (with exception for religious beliefs)
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

States Requiring One-Time Notification:

Alabama
Arizona
Connecticut
Florida
Hawaii
Kansas
Nevada
New Hampshire
North Carolina
Oregon

Parent Education Minimums

One common thing I hear from people who doubt whether they can homeschool their kids is that they think they are supposed to have a college degree. In reality, none of the states require that. In fact, most states don’t have a requirement regarding the parent’s education. However, some states do require that the parent have a high school diploma. Other states have legislations that require the parent to be “competent” or “capable” (though these terms are not clearly defined and are left up to school officials to determine). The state of Washington requires the parent to meet one of four standards. West Virginia leaves everything up to the superintendent’s discretion.

 

 

States Requiring High School Diploma:


District of Columbia (can waive if can prove ability to teach)
Georgia
New Mexico
North Carolina
North Dakota (allows parents to be temporarily monitored if they do not have a diploma)
Ohio (allows parents to be temporarily monitored if they do not have a diploma)
Pennsylvania
South Dakota
Virginia (can be waived if parent can prove teaching ability; exceptions for distance learning and religious beliefs)

States Requiring Other Standards:


California (Must be “capable” of teaching; capability defined by officials)
Kansas (Must be competent teachers: competence defined by officials)
Washington (Must meet be supervised by a certified instructor, have earned a minimum number of college credits, have taken a home-based instruction course, OR be deemed qualified by local school board

State-Mandated Subjects

Nearly half of the states have requirements concerning the subjects parents are supposed to teach their children, but don’t have a real way to prove whether or not this particular regulation is adhered to. To find out which subjects are required by your state, I recommend contacting the Home School Legal Defense Association, which is generally a great source of information, support, and advocacy for homeschoolers.

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States With State-Mandated Subjects:


Arizona
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Georgia
Idaho
Illinois
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Mexico
New York
North Dakota
Ohio
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Texas
Vermont
Washington
Wisconsin
Wyoming

Assessment Requirements

Another regulation that homeschool parents worry about is whether their child has to undergo regular assessments. Several states have no requirements, but some require periodic or annual assessments.

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States Requiring Annual Assessments:


Florida
Louisiana
Maine (no ramifications)
Minnesota (no ramifications)
New Hampshire (no ramifications)
New York
North Carolina (no ramifications)
Ohio
Pennsylvania (annual testing; periodic evaluation)
South Carolina
Vermont
Virginia (allows for religious, philosophical, and moral exceptions if parent’s educational requirements are met)
Washington (no ramifications)

States Requiring Periodic Assessment:

Colorado
Georgia (no ramifications)
Hawaii
Maryland
North Dakota (allows for religious, philosophical, and moral exceptions if parent’s educational requirements are met)
Oregon (no ramification; test scores only submitted if requested)
South Dakota
Tennessee

*The District of Columbia requires assessment upon evaluation and Massachusetts’ requirements vary by district.

This article does not go into detail about all of the homeschool laws. For more information, I recommend you check out the Home School Legal Defense Association and your state’s Department of Education. I hope that this has helped you to gain some clarity about the homeschool laws in your state. I’d love to know which state you’re homeschooling as well as additional information you could provide regarding the laws in your state and district. Let me know in the comments below!

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