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Homeschoolers have a lot of choices available. Please take the information you find useful from these pages and ignore the rest.
Many people, including me, will give opinions on the PA homeschooling law. I believe that everyone should read the law for themselves, read a few opinions about it, and decide for themselves what approach makes sense for their family.
I might be wrong! I am not a lawyer! Your circumstances may be different! This page, and others on this site, are not intended as legal advice. School districts vary considerably in their interpretation of the home education law. Please double-check legal information with appropriate sources. In particular, the PA Dept. of Ed. may be helpful.
This web page by Pauline Harding for Art Nurk.
What happens if the school district thinks I may not be giving my child an appropriate education?
Most home educators in PA have few serious problems with their school district. They turn in their paperwork, the district OKs it, and all is well. However, in a few cases, things do not go as smoothly. I believe it's important for all home educators to understand what the law says about the home educator's rights and responsibilities, as well as the school district's, in such situations. (Note that this page applies to the PA Home Education Law (24 PS 13-1327.1 Home education program). The law does not apply to students using an alternative to the home education law, such as private tutoring, public cyber-charter school, etc.)
Below I've shown the relevant parts of the law, in green text, with a few thoughts. However, it's best to read the Home Ed law for yourself, in context; there is a copy here.
"Appropriate education" is the standard for assessing a home education program.
"Appropriate education" shall mean a program consisting of
Note that there are three aspects to "appropriate education":
~ instruction "for the time required", described in the law as "a minimum of one hundred eighty (180) days of instruction or nine hundred (900) hours of instruction per year at the elementary level [grades 1-6], or nine hundred ninety (990) hours per year at the secondary level" [grades 7-12]. (More discussion of this here.)
~ "instruction in the required subjects", (They are described here.), and
~ "sustained progress in the overall program".
All of these are to some extent subjective, especially "progress'. Note that there is NO requirement to meet state educational standards. PA home educators create their own educational objectives for their students.
In order to demonstrate that appropriate education is occurring, you must maintain a portfolio and get an evaluation.
(e) In order to demonstrate that appropriate education is occurring, the supervisor of the home education program shall provide and maintain on file the following documentation for each student enrolled in the home education program:
(1) A portfolio of records and materials...
(2) An annual written evaluation of the student's educational progress...
The portfolio shall consist of
a log, made contemporaneously with the instruction, which designates by title the reading materials used,
samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks or creative materials used or developed by the student
and in grades three, five and eight results of nationally normed standardized achievement tests in reading/language arts and mathematics or the results of Statewide tests administered in these grade levels.
You must submit your portfolio and written evaluation to the school district at the end of the school year.
(h) Such documentation required by subsection (e)(1) and (2) [the portfolio and the written evaluation] shall be provided to the public school district of residence superintendent at the conclusion of each public school year.
The deadline is June 30 of each year.
If the superintendent has a reasonable belief that appropriate education may not be occurring, he may require that you submit your portfolio, written evaluation, and test results (in 3rd/5th/8th grades) to the district mid-year.
...if the superintendent has a reasonable belief that, at any time during the school year, appropriate education may not be occurring in the home education program, he may, by certified mail, return receipt requested, require
documentation pertaining to the portfolio of records and materials required by subsection (e)(1) [the portfolio] to be submitted to the district within fifteen (15) days;
and documentation pertaining to subsection (e)(2) [the evaluator's report] to be submitted to the district within thirty (30) days.
If the tests as required in subsection (e)(1) [the 3rd/5th/8th grade standardized testing] have not been administered at the time of the receipt of the certified letter by the supervisor, the supervisor shall submit the other required documentation and shall submit the test results with the documentation at the conclusion of the school year.
Note that it's rare to get a mid-year request for documentation.
The superintendent must return your documentation when he is finished reviewing it. He may keep copies.
(g) When documentation is required by this section to be submitted to the district of residence superintendent or the hearing examiner, the superintendent or the hearing examiner shall return, upon completion of his review, all such documentation to the supervisor of the home education program.
The superintendent or hearing examiner may photocopy all or portions of the documentation for his files.
If the superintendent determines that your portfolio and written evaluation do not demonstrate appropriate education, he can send a letter specifying what aspect of the documentation is inadequate and asking for additional documentation.