“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.
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.
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.
States Requiring Annual Notification:
District of Columbia
Virginia (with exception for religious beliefs)
States Requiring One-Time Notification:
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)
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)
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
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.
States With State-Mandated Subjects:
District of Columbia
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.
States Requiring Annual Assessments:
Maine (no ramifications)
Minnesota (no ramifications)
New Hampshire (no ramifications)
North Carolina (no ramifications)
Pennsylvania (annual testing; periodic evaluation)
Virginia (allows for religious, philosophical, and moral exceptions if parent’s educational requirements are met)
Washington (no ramifications)
States Requiring Periodic Assessment:
Georgia (no ramifications)
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)
*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!