Homeschooling was illegal in most states right up until the 1980s. By 1989, just Michigan, North Dakota and Iowa still listed homeschooling as a crime. Today, Michigan and Iowa have some of the most relaxed homeschooling regulations in the country.
Although homeschooling is now legal across the United States, each state is responsible for drafting its own homeschool regulations, which means that what must be done to legally homeschool varies depending on where a family lives.
Some states are highly regulated, while others place few restrictions on homeschooling families.
MOST HIGHLY REGULATED STATES
The five states considered to be most regulated in terms of homeschool laws are Vermont, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts. But New York takes the prize as one of the most homeschool-regulated states in the U.S.
New York’s laws include:
- Parents are required to annually submit an instruction plan for each student.
- Annual standardized testing is required for all homeschooling students. Each student must rank at or above the 33rd percentile OR show a full grade level improvement from their previous year grade level.
- New York state requires that parents teach homeschool students specific subjects at each grade level.
Running close behind New York in terms of highly regulated homeschool procedures, Pennsylvania requires:
- Parents must submit a notarized affidavit in order to remove their child(ren) from public school and place them in a homeschool situation.
- Everyone involved in a homeschool is subject to criminal background checks.
- All homeschool students in 3rd, 5th and 8th grades are required to take annual standardized tests. (Parents can choose from a list of approved tests.)
- Parents must maintain a portfolio for each child that demonstrates content of subjects taught, and results of standardized tests for students in grades required to be tested.
- Parents are required to “find an evaluator” to review completed student portfolios and sign off on each portfolio. This must be done on an annual basis.
- Parents are required to annually send the portfolio reviewer’s report to the school district.
STATES WITH MID-RANGE HOMESCHOOL RESTRICTIONS
Most states currently require that the homeschool parent/teacher hold a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. Some states go so far as to require the parent/teacher have a teaching degree OR be monitored by a certified teacher for two or more years.
Examples of other state requirements include:
North Carolina – Requirements include:
- Parents must maintain attendance and immunization records.
- Homeschooled children must complete annual standardized tests.
North Carolina is not the only moderately regulated state that requires annual standardized testing for homeschool students. Other states include Maine, Florida, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.
Ohio – Requirements include:
- Parents must submit an annual Letter of Intent (LOI) PLUS a summary of the curriculum to be taught in the homeschool.
- Parents must agree to provide 900 hours of education per year to their homeschoolers.
- At the end of each school year, parents can elect to administer state-approved standardized testing OR have their portfolio summary of the year’s activities reviewed by an approved evaluator and submitted to the district.
- Students are required to test above the 25th percentile on standardized tests or demonstrate positive progression in their portfolio.
Virginia – Requirements Include:
- Parents must file a Notice of Intent by August 15th of each year.
- Parents must file annual progress reports by August 1st of each year.
- In lieu of submitting to the moderate requirements of Virginia homeschool laws, Virginia parents can file a Religious Exemption.
MINIMALLY RESTRICTIVE HOMESCHOOL STATES
Sixteen states fall under the “Minimally Restrictive” category and eleven states have very few (or no) restrictions for homeschooling.
Two examples of “Minimally Restrictive” state laws include:
Georgia – Requirements include:
- Filing of an annual Declaration of Intent (DOI) by September 1st or 30 days from the initial homeschool startup.
- Homeschoolers must complete a nationally approved standardized test every three years beginning in grade 3.
- Parents must complete an annual progress report for each student but are not required to submit the report to anyone.
Nevada – There is only one homeschool regulation:
- A Notice of Intent (NOI) to homeschool must be filed just one time (ever) for each homeschooled child when that child turns seven.
- No portfolios.
- No evaluations.
- No standardized testing.
LEAST RESTRICTIVE STATE REGULATIONS
The eleven states in this category include: Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Three examples include:
Iowa – No regulations. No state testing. No lesson plans required. No attendance records. No requirement to notify the school district of homeschooling.
Missouri – If your child has not previously been enrolled in public school, there is no need to notify the school district of your homeschool. No testing. No evaluations. Parents must provide at least 1,000 classroom hours or 180 classroom days and submit a written progress report including some student work examples.
Idaho – Idaho does not regulate or monitor home schools. The entire homeschool process is left to the parent or guardian, including curriculum selection. There are no required registration procedures. The state does not designate any set curriculum requirements. All costs fall to the parent or guardian.
Generally speaking, U.S. homeschooling regulations have been relaxed over the past decade. School-at-home mandates related to the 2020-22 COVID pandemic not only added thousands of students to homeschool attendance rosters, but provided an atmosphere where homeschooling became more understood and accepted. Post-pandemic, a high percentage of parents made the decision to keep their children in a home school situation even after public schools re-opened.
With very few exceptions, state regulations are now either less strident or easier to navigate. In addition, the previous often-contentious relationship between states and homeschoolers has relaxed considerably and home schools and public schools in many states are finding ways to work together to provide the best education possible for American students.The most important thing you can do if you want to homeschool your kids is to check with your local school district to learn about your state’s requirements and regulations. For a state-by-state summary of current homeschool laws, visit: www.homeschoolfacts.com .