Friday, June 12, 2009

PA Homeschool Law

Pennsylvania has the second most restrictive homeschool law in the United States; second only to New York. The law requires parents to submit a letter to inform their school district that they will be homeschooling their child(ren), whether the child has already been in public school or not. A child or children can only be homeschooled by a parent or legal guardian or a person who has a court order, signed by a judge, that gives that person guardianship over the child's education.

At the beginning of each school year, homeschool parents must submit a notarized affadavit to their school district informing them of their intent to homeschool, and it must name the supervisor of the homeschool and each child and their age. The first year the homeschool parents must also show proof of their own high school diploma.

At the beginning of each school year, they must also submit a list of objectives, which is a list of what they plan to accomplish in each subject during that school year.

By the end of each school year, homeschooling parents must also prove that the child(ren) are receiving appropriate dental and medical care -- there are particular requirements depending on the child(ren)'s grade level. They must also provide a copy of an Independent Evaluator's Report. This means that at the end of each school year, the homeschool parent must assemble a portfolio for each child they are homeschooling. In the portfolio, they must show something from each subject from the beginning, middle, and end of the school year to show the child's progress in each subject. They also have to have some type of record showing that their child completed 180 days of school (or 900 hours for elementary or 990 hours for high school). They have to take the portfolio and the record of days or hours and their child(ren) to a certified teacher who has been approved by their school district to perform end-of-the-year evaluations for homeschoolers. The evaluator will give you advice, help, suggestions, encouragement and approval of your homeschool. The evaluator will speak to your children and ask them questions about their homeschool year -- things like what they liked best about the year, what their favorite subject(s) is or are, what their least favorite subject is, if they did a special project that they want the evaluator to take notice of. Many evaluators will also ask elementary level students to read a paragraph or two aloud from a book. Then the evaluator will give the homeschool parent a copy of their report about their homeschool and the parent must submit this to the school district with the required medical forms.

Also, some school districts require homeschool parents to hand in their entire portfolio each and every school year. I am blessed because our school district only required that for the first two years.

Finally, homeschool students are required to take standardized testing in grades 3, 5, and 8 and the results of those tests are to be submitted by the end of that particular school year as well.

So, as you can see, those of us who homeschool in Pennsylvania have a lot of requirements to follow. I do not have too much difficulty following the requirements, but there are a few things that I find too restrictive and wish they would change. I know that HSLDA has tried to get things changed to make things a little easier for us but have had no success so far. I also know that there are some states that have no requirements other than that they must be notified when a family decides to begin homeschooling.

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